ASU/UofA Join Forces with DHS on Border Security
ASU joins international effort for border-security solutions
University, other schools partner with Homeland Security Dept. on new border technologies effort
by Allison Gatlin
published on Wednesday, March 5, 2008As immigration continues to dominate politics in Arizona and across the U.S., ASU is joining forces with the Department of Homeland Security to tackle border issues.
ASU will be one of the universities across the U.S., Canada and Mexico that will work with the Department of Homeland Security at the new online Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration.
These universities have been recruited in order to provide new techniques for screening and surveillance at the nation's borders, said Rick Van Schoik, director of the North American Center for Transborder Studies.
The goal for the Homeland Security Department's center is to bring together groups with diverse backgrounds in order to come up with new technologies and sensors to use for security at border patrols, Van Schoik said.
"We are going to apply science, technology and scholarly research toward the challenge of border security and immigration and other related DHS issues," Van Schoik said. "It's a lot about security and how the University can help with the government."
Van Schoik, who was chosen to lead the new center at ASU, said the University will work under UA on the project. Jay Nunamaker, director of the Center for the Management of Information at UA, will head the program.
An executive team will work with Nunamaker to make decisions about the research techniques and where to direct funding provided by the Department of Homeland Security, Van Schoik said.
The entire program will be based online as a virtual research entity and will involve researchers and scholars from across the nation.
The ASU center will be stationed in Van Schoik's Tempe office and will involve up to 18 campus researchers to help with various projects for the Department of Homeland Security.
The facility will work on projects that have to do with surveillance and screening, Van Schoik said.
Several ASU projects will involve facial and gait recognition in order to track potentially dangerous people at the borders, he added.
"We have the chance to really think outside the box when it comes to next-generation technology and sensors and information," Van Schoik said.
The science and technology section of the Department of Homeland Security conceived the project. It is a relatively new division that has been striving to tap into resources at universities for a couple of years, Van Schoik said.
"[This project] has to do with international relations: U.S. with its northern and southern borders, as well as the U.S. with the other countries of the world," Van Schoik said. "It's about integration across all of those concerns and just this bigger topic of security."
Garrett Halbach, an economy and history junior, said he thinks the project will be a worthwhile one.
"It's all been kind of exciting," Halbach said.
Halbach, who works in ASU's North American Center for Transborder Studies, said he would consider working with the new center in the future.
"It sounds like the two centers are doing very similar stuff," Halbach said of the center where he works and the Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration. "I'm sure that [the centers] will overlap in what they work on sometime."
Reach the reporter at: allison.gatlin@....
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