August 01, 2005
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On July 7, 2005 at the peak of the rush hour, bombs were detonated in three crowded subway trains and aboard a London bus. Fifty-four people died and 700 were injured in the blasts. Three of the four bombers are included in the dead. A week later there were attempted explosions on three more Underground trains and another bus. Millions of people around the world have joined a two-minute silence to pay tribute to the victims of the London bombings.
This tragedy brought home the reality that our own subway, bus and trains systems are vulnerable to a similar attack. Since 9/11 most of the US focus has been on aviation safety. In New York only the Metropolitan Transit Authority serves 14.6 million people across 5,000 square miles with more than 8,200 rail and subway cars and 734 rail stations.
In January of 2003, the United States Government established the Department of Homeland Security to focus America's efforts to thwart those who seek to do us harm. The Department has an overriding and urgent mission: secure the American homeland and protect the American people.
The Department's strategic goals and objectives are directly linked to accomplishing the three objectives of the National Strategy:1) Prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; 2) Reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism; and 3) Minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.
More specifically the strategic goals are:
Twenty two existing agencies and approximately 180,000 men and woman became part of the four directorates forming the Department of Homeland Security.
Those of us who travel by air are familiar with the long lines for scanning carry-on baggage, the waving of the metal detector wands, the removal of one's shoes and so forth. We have read about the reinforced cockpit doors and the stationing of federal marshals on flights. We have observed or been part of random searches at the gate as was Al Gore.
There is also a watch list of names of suspected terrorists. Senator Ted Kennedy has been stopped for special attention three times at Boston's Logan International Airport. Also of Irish decent I have received special treatment in being unable to get a Southwest board pass over the internet or at a kiosk at the airport. I had to go in person to the counter.
The technology is basically visual inspection and interpretation of x-rayed luggage an approach subject to error due to several factors including fatigue. Once arriving late at the Mexico City airport I had in my carry-on luggage a letter opener (part of a last minute desk set gift). This was confiscated although my associate who was directly ahead of me sailed through security with the very same desk set.
security and of which $291 million is for surface transportation security.
The agency employs two approaches to detecting possible explosive devices:
TSA's 2006 budget for ETDs and EDSs is $367 million down from $840 in FY2004. The two main vendors for EDSs systems are L-3 Communications with about 530 machines installed and GE Infrastructure (Invision) with 800 machines installed. In late 2004 TSA certified a third vendor, Reveal Imaging Technologies, offering a cheaper system. The eXaminer 3DX 6500 from L-3 is capable of screening up to 600 bags per hour and has a false alarm rate of less than 17 percent on average nationwide. Trace portal equipment vendors include GE Infrastructure and Security and Smiths Detection. Approximately 150 machines have been installed in airports.
What has this to do with EDA?
In a speech to the Electronics Industries Alliance in 2002 then Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said
The government is relying on innovation by end users of EDA software and services to develop accurate, rapid and affordable means for the detection of possible explosives.
In June 2005 Celoxica Ltd announced that HiEnergy Technologies, Inc., a developer of advanced stoichiometric sensor devices, has adopted the Celoxica DK Design Suite of C-based design and synthesis tools to accelerate chemical formula analysis algorithms. Portions of the algorithm are moved to hardware to accelerate the signal processing and free the embedded processor for other tasks. HiEnergy and Celoxica have successfully implemented and delivered these algorithms using Celoxica RC2000 FPGA boards in HiEnergy's SIEGMA 3E3 product used for the remote detection of hidden homemade bombs.
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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
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