With Large catastrophic wildfires becoming common, Technology coming to rescue for wildfire prevention, detection, and suppression

Since May 2, 2016 the Fort McMurray fire has decimated over 240,700 hectares of boreal forest and destroyed over 2,400 buildings. Insurance losses are estimated at over 9 billion Canadian dollars. Wildfires in Canada and the US burn an average of 54,500 square kilometers (13,000,000 acres) per year.

In the United States, there are typically between 60,000 and 80,000 wildfires that occur each year, burning an average of 7 million acres of land each year. For the last 10 years, the USFS and Department of Interior have spent a combined average of about $1.5 billion annually on wildfire suppression.

Communities across the Western U.S. and Canada may have to adapt to living with the ever-increasing threat of catastrophic wildfires as global warming heats up and dries out forests across the West, according to a University of Colorado study. “Neither suppression nor current approaches to fuels management adequately reduce vulnerability of communities to increasing wildfire,” said the study’s lead author, Tania Schoennagel, a research scientist at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “We’ve been very effective with fire suppression for many years, but wildfires are increasing beyond our capacity to control, especially with more people in fire’s way.”

Between about June and October 2015 in Indonesia, more than 100,000 fires burned down millions of hectares of fragile forest lands. There were human and animal fatalities, and the economic damage was estimated to be more than $15bn (£10bn).

Over the past few decades, wildfire suppression costs have increased as fire seasons have grown longer and the frequency, size, and severity of wildfires has increased. Large catastrophic wildfires have become common, especially in association with extended drought and extreme weather. Worldwide damage from wildfires is in the billions of euros annually. Between 1997 and 2008 wild fires scorched 330-431 million hectares of global vegetation each year. That is an area nearly twice the size of Mexico. Disaster fires affect every region of the world and every vegetated biome.


Strategies for wildfire prevention, detection, and suppression

Strategies of wildfire prevention, detection, and suppression have varied over the years, and international wildfire management experts encourage further development of technology and research.

“According to the Paris Agreement, action on loss and damage could include developing early warning systems, emergency preparedness, and risk insurance. Currently less than half of the countries in the world have a national fire warning system in place. Fire warnings can be used to pre-position fire fighters and equipment, helicopters, and fixed wing air tankers,” write Z. Zommers, United Nations Environment Programme and others.

“Money for preparatory action can also be released based on pre-defined thresholds within forecasts. Such “forecast based action” is being tested for other climate extremes in Peru and Uganda by the Red Cross and the World Food Program is linking “climate and hazard forecasting with flexible multi-year financing”.



Wildfire prevention refers to the preemptive methods of reducing the risk of fires as well as lessening its severity and spread. Effective prevention techniques allow supervising agencies to manage air quality, maintain ecological balances, protect resources, and to limit the effects of future uncontrolled fires.

Wildfires are caused by a combination of natural factors such as topography, fuels and weather. Other than reducing human infractions, only fuels may be altered to affect future fire risk and behavior.

Wildfire prevention programs around the world may employ techniques such as wildland fire use and prescribed or controlled burns. Wildland fire use refers to any fire of natural causes that is monitored but allowed to burn.

Controlled burns are fires ignited by government agencies under less dangerous weather conditions. Controlled burns are reportedly “the most effective treatment for reducing a fire’s rate of spread, fireline intensity, flame length, and heat per unit of area” according to Jan Van Wagtendonk, a biologist at the Yellowstone Field Station.

At the Canadian Forest Service’s Northern Forestry Centre headquarters in Edmonton, fire research scientist Kerry Anderson analyses weather information from 2,500 weather stations across North America and data from satellites passing overhead. “We enter that into the Canadian forest fire danger rating system to assess what the values are and what the fire danger is across the country,” he said.

Mark Cochrane, a senior scientist at the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence at South Dakota State University, is using satellites data to determine the best techniques for preventing wildfires. “This information helps us understand how what we’ve done on the landscape affects fires now,” Cochrane told LiveScience. Though it varies by region, forest thinning and prescribed burns — both of which aim to eliminate fire fuel before the fire occurs — seem to be the most effective methods, he said.

Building codes in fire-prone areas typically require that structures be built of flame-resistant materials and a defensible space be maintained by clearing flammable materials within a prescribed distance from the structure.



Fast and effective detection is a key factor in wildfire fighting. A small, high risk area that features thick vegetation, a strong human presence, or is close to a critical urban area can be monitored using a local sensor network. Detection systems may include wireless sensor networks that act as automated weather systems: detecting temperature, humidity, and smoke. These may be battery-powered, solar-powered, or tree-rechargeable: able to recharge their battery systems using the small electrical currents in plant material.

Larger, medium-risk areas can be monitored by scanning towers that incorporate fixed cameras and sensors to detect smoke or additional factors such as the infrared signature of carbon dioxide produced by fires. Additional capabilities such as night vision, brightness detection, and color change detection may also be incorporated into sensor arrays.

Satellite-mounted sensors such as Envisat’s Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer and European Remote-Sensing Satellite’s Along-Track Scanning Radiometer can measure infrared radiation emitted by fires, identifying hot spots greater than 39 °C (102 °F). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hazard Mapping System combines remote-sensing data from satellite sources such as Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) for detection of fire and smoke plume locations.

However, satellite detection is prone to offset errors, anywhere from 2 to 3 kilometers (1 to 2 mi) for MODIS and AVHRR data and up to 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) for GOES data. Satellites in geostationary orbits may become disabled, and satellites in polar orbits are often limited by their short window of observation time. Cloud cover and image resolution and may also limit the effectiveness of satellite imagery.

Satellite and aerial monitoring through the use of planes, helicopter, or UAVs can provide a wider view and may be sufficient to monitor very large, low risk areas. These more sophisticated systems employ GPS and aircraft-mounted infrared or high-resolution visible cameras to identify and target wildfires.

In recent fires in canada airborne infrared scanner was used to know where these ground fires are and information is relayed to ground on a map with co-ordinates. “The ground crew can then take those co-ordinates and pinpoint the exact location of underground fires using GPS. The firefighters systematically go through and knock them off,” Wildfire ranger Dan Gorzeman said

Military technology tested to track, map wildfires

This high-powered Synthetic aperture radar (SAR)  sensor technology, used by the military in combat zones for years, is now being tested by the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department to help fight wildfires and provide early warning for evacuations. Flying

Linden Blue, chief executive officer of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, said the manned aircraft flying at altitudes of 13,000 to 15,000 feet,  can stay far above air tankers and firefighting helicopters, smoke plumes and low clouds , collecting video and data, for four to six hours at a time.  SAR allows to see through the clouds, smoke, even treetops, to find flames as well as hot soil. After testing the equipment using the plane, Blue said they would like to expand to using an unmanned aircraft.

“This year we’re adding an element that’s going to make our city safer,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. He said the General Atomics senors will “revolutionize the way we attack wildfires,” offering advanced, real-time data.

Fire Chief Brian Fennessy said the technology includes the ability to relay communications between dispatchers and firefighters isolated in canyons and even to track the firefighters for their safety. Evacuation warnings could be made more timely with mapping that shows precisely which way flames are moving.



For the first time, firefighters have deployed a Predator drone to fly over the Rim Fire in Yosemite, Calif. In contrast to a manned airplane, the remotely piloted aircraft doesn’t risk the life of the pilot, and can fly over the fire for much longer. Firefighters are using information gathered by the drone to guide the allocation of firefighting resources on the ground to where they are most needed. The aerial view also reveals the location of critical infrastructure such as power lines, gas lines and water systems in the fire’s path.

An integrated approach of multiple systems can be used to merge satellite data, aerial imagery, and personnel position via Global Positioning System (GPS) into a collective whole for near-realtime use by wireless Incident Command Centers


Robots : Thermite

Fire-fighting bots such as Thermite, developed by Howe and Howe Tech, are remote-controlled machines with multi-directional nozzles backed by pumps that deliver up to 600 gallons of water per minute. These robots help first respondents by reducing the flames, enabling firefighters to get reach otherwise hostile environments after industrial, nuclear and chemical fires.


Once a wildfire gets going, containing the blaze is the immediate priority. The standard response includes fire trucks (and related equipment), ground crews, bulldozers and aircraft. On the ground, firefighters lay down fire hoses along the fire’s edge, every 100 feet (30 meters) or so. Then firefighter crews or bulldozers create what’s known as a firebreak or fire line around the perimeter of the blaze, a strip of land or trench where any potential fuel — such as dry brush or grass — has been removed.

“We don’t want the fire to come out of that area, and the only way to do that is to remove any fuel,” Julie Hutchinson, said battalion chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).
Aircraft play an important role, too. Helicopters fly over and dump water or sometimes suppressant foam on fire hotspots. The foam acts as insulation to prevent unburned fuels from catching fire.
Silver iodide can be used to encourage snow fall, while fire retardants and water can be dropped onto fires by unmanned aerial vehicles, planes, and helicopters.


Fire retardant

Fixed wing aircraft called air tankers fly over the blaze dumping flame retardant chemicals, such as ammonium phosphate
Fire retardants are used to help slow wildfires, coat fuels, and lessen oxygen availability as required by various firefighting situations. They are composed of nitrates, ammonia, phosphates and sulfates, as well as other chemicals and thickening agents. The choice of whether to apply retardant depends on the magnitude, location and intensity of the wildfire.

Fire retardants are used to reach inaccessible geographical regions where ground firefighting crews are unable to reach a wildfire or in any occasion where human safety and structures are endangered. In certain instances, fire retardant may also be applied ahead of wildfires for protection of structures and vegetation as a precautionary fire defense measure.
The application of aerial fire retardants creates an atypical appearance on land and water surfaces and has the potential to change soil chemistry. Aerial uses of fire retardant are required to avoid application near waterways and endangered species (plant and animal habitats).

Complete fire suppression is no longer an expectation, but the majority of wildfires are often extinguished before they grow out of control. While more than 99% of the 10,000 new wildfires each year are contained, escaped wildfires can cause extensive damage.

DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS)  Technology for battling Wildfires

DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program seeks to fundamentally increase CAS effectiveness by enabling soldiers and combat aircrews to share real-time situational awareness, and weapons system data and reduce engagement time to as little as six minutes.

DARPA collaborated with firefighters to test the potential value of PCAS technology for these public servants who face challenges when battling wildfires similar to those that troops face in battle—the need for situational awareness, precise coordination of airborne water drops and ensuring fellow firefighters are kept safe from rapidly moving and shifting flames.

They developed Fire Line Advanced Situational Awareness for Handhelds (FLASH) prototype system that includes a ruggedized tablet computer and MANET-capable radio that firefighters and other responders can wear, freeing their hands for other tasks in the field. The system overlays multiple streams of information from airborne sensors, firefighters and fire command posts onto a shared digital map visible via tablet computers.

The demonstration took place near where 19 firefighters from the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Hot Shots unit gave their lives on June 30, 2013, battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire. The demonstration used Mobile Ad Hoc Networking (MANET) capable tactical radio of Persistent Systems, LLC.

Whatever goes into the radio, goes out everywhere on the network of nodes that make up the MANET. Users can tether mobile computers, cameras and sensors to the nodes to exchange video feeds, positional data, and, with the push of a button, voice to everyone on the network. The MANET forms automatically, routes data fast, and can grow and shrink as users move in and out of radio range. All of this happens without a central point of control.



Future technologies:  Unmanned Ground Vehicles

The military has developing autonomous unmanned ground vehicles which can navigate on all kinds of terrains and which can carry variety of payloads including day night all weather surveillance, are expected to assist firemen in battle to prevent and contain wildfires. Canada used the all-terrain carrier called a Hägglund easily stores all the gear firefighters need to tackle any situation and rumbles effortlessly on its huge tracks over toppled trees, through thick mud and streams.


Big data and Social Media

Big data is already being used to understand and predict wildfire spread. Further into the future, artificial intelligence playing a larger role to fight fires on the ground will become commonplace.

“Crowdsourced information pulled from social media has been seen as a helpful tool to identifying the spread of wildfires and helping to deploy forces. Monitoring social posts for mentions or pictures of fire or smoke from at-risk locations could be an important data stream, thus creating an early warning system when wildfires start or spread. This could become particularly useful, given the increasing number of people choosing to live in and around the periphery of at-risk land,” writes Joe Cecin in techcrunch.


Factors leading to wildfires

Wildfires are ‘quasi-natural’ hazards, meaning that they are not entirely natural features (like volcanoes, earthquakes and tropical storms). This is because they are caused by humans as well.

There are many factors that lead to wildfires, the major ones being the presence of fuels, a source of ignition and conducive weather conditions. The four major natural causes of wildfire ignitions are lightning, volcanic eruption, sparks from rockfalls, and spontaneous combustion.

The most common cause of wildfires varies throughout the world. In Canada and northwest China, for example, lightning is the major source of ignition. In other parts of the world, human involvement is a major contributor. In Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Fiji, and New Zealand, wildfires can be attributed to human activities such as animal husbandry, agriculture, and land-conversion burning. Human carelessness is a major cause of wildfires in China and in the Mediterranean Basin. In the United States and Australia, the source of wildfires can be traced to both lightning strikes and human activities such as machinery sparks and cast-away cigarette butts


Characteristics of Wildfires

Wildfires occur when all of the necessary elements of a fire triangle come together in a susceptible area: an ignition source is brought into contact with a combustible material such as vegetation, that is subjected to sufficient heat and has an adequate supply of oxygen from the ambient air. A high moisture content usually prevents ignition and slows propagation, because higher temperatures are required to evaporate any water within the material and heat the material to its fire point

A wildfire front is the portion sustaining continuous flaming combustion, where unburned material meets active flames, or the smoldering transition between unburned and burned material. As the front approaches, the fire heats both the surrounding air and woody material through convection and thermal radiation.

First, wood is dried as water is vaporized at a temperature of 100 °C (212 °F). Next, the pyrolysis of wood at 230 °C (450 °F) releases flammable gases. Finally, wood can smoulder at 380 °C (720 °F) or, when heated sufficiently, ignite at 590 °C (1,000 °F). Even before the flames of a wildfire arrive at a particular location, heat transfer from the wildfire front warms the air to 800 °C (1,470 °F), which pre-heats and dries flammable materials, causing materials to ignite faster and allowing the fire to spread faster

Wildfires have a rapid forward rate of spread (FROS) when burning through dense, uninterrupted fuels. They can move as fast as 10.8 kilometres per hour (6.7 mph) in forests and 22 kilometres per hour (14 mph) in grasslands. Wildfires can advance tangential to the main front to form a flanking front, or burn in the opposite direction of the main front by backing.
They may also spread by jumping or spotting as winds and vertical convection columns carry firebrands (hot wood embers) and other burning materials through the air over roads, rivers, and other barriers that may otherwise act as firebreaks.

Wildfire Propagation Model

Wildfire modeling is concerned with numerical simulation of wildfires in order to comprehend and predict fire behavior. Wildfire modeling can ultimately aid wildfire suppression, increase the safety of firefighters and the public, and minimize damage. Using computational science, wildfire modeling involves the statistical analysis of past fire events to predict spotting risks and front behavior.

Modern growth models utilize a combination of past ellipsoidal descriptions and Huygens’ Principle to simulate fire growth as a continuously expanding polygon.

At the Canadian Forest Service’s Northern Forestry Centre headquarters in Edmonton, fire research scientist Kerry Anderson, also monitor fires that are burning and try to predict where they’ll go next using computer models to spread a forest fire into the future.

These models provide a snapshot of the fire’s potential, Hutchinson said. “Where it becomes important is when you start having multiple fires in a state, and you’re having to allocate resources,” she added.


Need for Fire risk management maps

“With data on fire ignitions, weather, vegetation and topography, we can build models to demonstrate how we expect a region to burn should it catch fire. These can show two things that are important to guide policy: the probability of burning, and the likely fire intensity. The first shows the chances of a fire taking hold, and the second indicates how severe the ­consequences will be,” writes Marc-André Parisien in Nature.

“These maps show which areas, if they ignite, will burn at such a high temperature that attempts to fight the fire will never succeed. The only option is to evacuate, or not to live there in the first place. The maps can also identify parts of the forest where, because of the nature of the landscape and flora, fire would be easier to prevent and tackle. This knowledge can be used to allocate money and effort to places where mitigation is more likely to work.”

“Continued human expansion into the Canadian boreal forest for natural-resource extraction and housing is inevitable. Risk-assessment maps can guide this new development and direct it to low-risk areas. Some of these places are obvious: new settlements could take advantage of natural firebreaks such as large lakes to help shield them.”

“We’re losing homes in fires because homes are being put into hazardous conditions,” said Jon Keeley, a fire ecologist with the U.S Geological Survey (USGS). “The important thing is not to blame it on the fire event, but instead to think about planning and reduce putting people at risk.”

“Ultimately, if our climate is changing, human systems must also change. Urban areas are expanding at a relentless pace. For communities to be truly sustainable, all of our systems―building codes, insurance policies, market-based incentives, community planning and early warning systems―must change to reduce risks. We need to have better ecosystem services management, and it needs to be integrated into a coordinated suite of policies that sustain human settlements in dangerously shifting conditions. Only then can we “dampen” loss and damage,” write Z. Zommers, United Nations Environment Programme and others.

Reference and Resources also include:



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildfirehttp://www.livescience.com/39367-how-to-fight-wildfires.html   Tech’s Role In Fighting Wildfires




Emerging Science and Technology to support Disaster Emergency Response

Global natural disasters in 2016 combined to cause economic losses of USD210 billion, an amount 21 percent above the 16-year average of USD174 billion. Notable events during the year included major earthquakes in Japan; Hurricane Matthew in the United States and Caribbean; catastrophic summer flooding in China, Europe, and the United States; several extensive severe weather outbreaks in the United States; major wildfires in Canada and the United States; and drought across parts of Southeast Asia and Africa. The top three perils—flooding, earthquake and severe weather—combined for 70 percent of all economic losses in 2016. While at least 72 percent of catastrophe losses occurred outside of the United States, it still accounted for 56 percent of global insured losses. This highlights the continued protection gap in many areas around the world.


The risk of disasters is accumulating rapidly, with climate change increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events and urbanization exposing greater numbers of people to their impacts. Over the last decade, China, the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia and India constitute together the top 5 countries that are most frequently hit by natural disasters. Each year, natural disasters, compounded by climate change and conflict, cause more than $500 billion in losses.



Disasters like this can cripple any country and erase hard-fought development gains. To prevent such devastation, whether social or economic, an effective framework for recovery must be in place before a disaster strikes, says World Bank. “Put simply, resilience is about people’s capacity to anticipate, prepare for, withstand and recover from a range of shocks and stresses, without compromising their long-term prospects.” “While technology cannot address all barriers to resilience, it is a powerful enabler in strengthening resilience characteristics and empowering communities.”


“Communities and households with access to accurate and timely information, good levels of health care, social support networks and economic opportunities are less susceptible to hazards and faster to recover from shocks and stressors.”


Technology has transformed how the rest of the world views and responds to crises. After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, NGOs and humanitarian agencies turned to crowd sourcing information to reach survivors: the mapping platform Ushahidi was used to map SMS requests for help. Since then, Google’s Person Finder has been used to help reconnect families after floods in Pakistan, the 2013 Japan earthquake, and more.



Disaster Management comprises of activities like

Preparedness — activities prior to a disaster. Examples: preparedness plans; emergency exercises/training; warning systems.
Response — activities during a disaster. Examples: public warning systems;
emergency operations; search and rescue.
Recovery — activities following a disaster. Examples: temporary housing; claims
processing and grants; long-term medical
care and counseling.
Mitigation – activities that reduce the effects of disasters. Examples: building codes and zoning; vulnerability analyses; public education.


In 2013, the Red Cross and Red Crescent published its standout report, “World Disasters Report: Focus on Technology and the Future of Humanitarian Action”, in collaboration with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.


As the Red Cross and Red Crescent and its coalition of partners strive to make 1 billion people safer by 2025, emerging technologies will play a particularly important role in amplifying efforts to facilitate community-level knowledge and health, connection, organization, economic opportunities, access to infrastructure and services, and management of natural resources.


Role of technology in disaster management and Response

The dialogue revealed that emerging technology solutions must possess eight of its own criteria to effectively improve and expand a community’s ability to prepare for emergencies, help people respond to increasing risks, and assist their recovery.


Smart phones, social media, sharing economies and other tools are already helping to redesign emergency preparedness and response operations by:

  • Facilitating community participation.
  • Spreading lifesaving messages.
  • Expediting service delivery even where power, connectivity, infrastructure and local training are lacking or limited.


“We also noted the importance of including different forms of technology beyond information and communications technology (ICT), such as robotics, manufacturing, medical and transport technologies.


The emerging technologies of focus ultimately included 3D printers, augmented reality software, biometric scanners, robots, smart cars, smart home sensor networks, unmanned aerial vehicles and wearable devices as well as the increasingly diverse methods to power them and the applications tied to their effective use.”


The participants in summit organized by Red Cross and Red Crescent in January 2015 at Nyenrode Business University outside Amsterdam, Netherlands, agreed upon four emerging technology use cases:

  • Wearable devices for providing early warning, supporting search and rescue, and reconnecting families
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles for temporarily restoring communications networks and delivering critical relief items, such as medicines, post disaster
  • Smart home sensor networks for sensing and reporting fires in informal settlements/slums
  • Biometric scanners in ATM-like kiosks for restoring lost documentation to prove identity, access assistance and reconnect families.


Wearable Devices

Community members and experts all recognized the value of wearable technology transmitting location information, which could be used by first responders to find people and accelerate family reunification after an incident. They also envisioned wearable technologies assisting with medical triage and diagnosis; this use could also help prevent disease transmission if healthcare professionals can access the patient’s information remotely.


Participants noted that both glasses and trackers currently require smartphones and Internet access, which limits their disaster use


New device brings military tech to heart health

Local doctors are making use of military technology to help heart failure patients. The Sensible Medical Vest was developed from technology created in Israel which uses radar to find and help rescue people buried in rubble and debris.


In as little as 90-seconds, the device detects how much fluid is in the lungs and if a patient has too much fluid in their lungs that could indicate heart failure.


“It allows us to make medical decisions about whether they need more diuretics which are water pills to help get fluid off or whether we need to adjust other medications to help keep them clinically out of heart failure,” said Dr. Scott Feitell, director of heart failure at Rochester General Hospital. More than 6 million people suffer from heart failure in the U.S. which accounts for about 25% of readmission’s at hospitals.


3D printers

The most interesting use cases for 3D printers, according to dialogue participants, included the production of medical supplies, disaster-resistant structures and building materials; replacement of important items such as heirlooms, cosmetic and functional modifications to their homes; and making spare parts to maintain the other emerging technologies.


In addition to speed and economic impacts, participants noted several other issues that may prevent 3D printer adoption unless resolved in the next generation of products. Today’s machines are difficult to operate outdoors, especially when exposed to water, dust and winds, and they require regular maintenance and significant power. Participants also questioned the waste generated by the printers as well as their potential toxicity. These barriers must be resolved before their benefits can be fully realized by communities in disaster-prone, urban settings.



Augmented Reality Software

Augmented reality software adds a layer of computer-generated data, which cannot be seen or heard with human senses, into reality through smart glasses and other Internet-connected devices.


The experts noted how mobile devices equipped with augmented reality software could be held in the user’s line of sight (similar to taking a picture) and display computer-generated billboards and bubbles on the screen that correspond with people’s homes and businesses, indicating those who are offering food, water, first aid and other services. This, they said, can be particularly helpful if the user is unfamiliar with the area, cannot see around the corner or is surrounded by high-rise buildings. This emerging technology could also help community members locate available resources post disaster and pinpoint people buried by a landslide or earthquake, saving lives and increasing the speed of recovery.


The software would need to be updated regularly and provide near real-time information (generated by users) about fixed and mobile services as they become available and expire.


Biometric Scanners

Biometric scanners are authentication devices using distinctive, measurable human characteristics and traits such as fingerprints, facial contours, DNA, palm prints, iris or retina patterns, and voice patterns, to identify individuals through a verification process


Participants agreed biometric scanners would be useful tools to manage relief distributions and cash grants, find and reconnect separated families, and restore lost documentation. Community members appreciated that biometrics could help them fight false criminal accusations and prove their identity more immediately than DNA testing.


That said, community members also noted some drawbacks to the technology, including potential abuses of power, privacy breaches and fraud.



Responding to epidemics also puts healthcare workers at significant risk of infection. Robots, with video screens to display the faces and voices of human healthcare workers, can provide diagnostic support, treatment and monitoring of medical patients.


They can also assist nurses and doctors in removing their personal protective equipment, in burying the deceased, and in comforting people who are suffering from stress and trauma. While people are in quarantine, robots may also deliver medicines, basic necessities and video communications from loved ones.


The most common use cases for robots to assist with strengthening urban resilience, according to the dialogue participants, included supporting telepresence, psychosocial counseling, medical treatment, search and rescue, and clean-up assistance.

However barriers—ranging from perception and trust to technical abilities—will need to be addressed by developers before the average consumers will embrace them as helpful resources.


Smart Cars

Smart cars are generally understood to be autonomous and semi-autonomous human transportation vehicles, but they can also include routine enhancements that make the vehicles safer and more connected.


Smart cars hold interesting potential for strengthening urban resilience, in that they can also operate on sustainable fuel sources leading to positive environmental implications, expedite safe evacuations before and after emergencies, and receive messages and alerts based on risks in its surroundings. Dialogue participants also noted their ability to float in flooding disasters.


Participants noted that after a disaster, when the landscape changes dramatically, updated maps would need to be available immediately to effectively utilize smart cars for a response.


Smart Home Sensor Networks

Community members were significantly more excited by the idea of a home or office building with sensors for fire, earthquake, gas leaks and even pollution, as opposed to the more convenience or entertainment-related use cases. They also preferred the use cases that involved disaster-resistant technologies, such as computer-controlled wind and water barriers that would protect a home’s interior from damage.


They also desired the smart homes to automatically take time-sensitive action, such as turning off the gas or bracing the roof for high winds.


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles


In recent years, several humanitarian organizations and governments have used UAVs in disaster management, most notably for assessing vulnerabilities before an emergency and damage after the disaster.


Both community members and experts involved in the dialogue agreed on their value as quick delivery agents for high-value supplies, such as medicines, and the sky as a temporary supply route in early response activities, as UAVs could traverse terrain that might be impassable otherwise. They also appreciated their potential to supply lighting, power and connectively from the air until more permanent solutions on the ground can be restored post-disaster.




References and Resources also include:



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US, Israel and India face tunnel threat enabling drug and weapon smuggling, human trafficking, and cross border terrorism, require detection technologies

The tunnel threat is a serious and growing concern to U.S and Mexico, as they enable human trafficking and smuggling of drugs and weapons across the border. It seems tunnel warfare is becoming a global concern as it is also common in other parts of the world such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria where rebels use them in combating Assad’s military forces.

In recent Israel-Palestine Conflict, Israel had carried out massive ground offensive to wipe out a vast network of tunnels built by Hamas. Israel sees these being built for infiltrating its territory, smuggle large amounts of firearms and other sabotage materials into the Gaza Strip. Many bemoan the fact, that such a large number of tunnels dug by Hamas from Gaza into Israel have gone undetected for so long.

The Israeli military has destroyed three cross-border Hamas terror tunnels in recent months using “new and groundbreaking technology,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus — the head of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit’s international media branch — said in a video

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in oct 2017,  hailed the IDF for destroying an attack tunnel from the Gaza Strip discovered near a kibbutz inside Israeli territory, with the two leaders attributing its discovery to Israel’s new “breakthrough technology.” I told you many times before that we are developing breakthrough technology to deal with the tunnel threat,” said Netanyahu at the start of the meeting. “We are implementing it. Today, we located a tunnel and we destroyed it.”

Earlier, the military said the tunnel had been under surveillance for an extended period of time and was under active construction at the time of the demolition. “The tunnel was detonated from within Israel, adjacent to the security fence,” the military said in a statement. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel was at least two kilometers away from the Israeli town and did not pose a threat to its residents. Liberman also said no Israelis were endangered by the tunnel.

The Israeli government, has been developing such a system for at least the past five years. Codenamed project “Hourglass,” Israel has already invested the U.S. dollar equivalent of more than $60 million in the system, involving help from more than 100 technologies, defense, and engineering companies. Remote controlled robots help agents explore tunnels that are too risky for humans to enter.

Recently a drug smuggling tunnel was discovered along the California-Mexico border that set the record for the longest cross-border tunnel ever discovered in Southern California. Around 170 tunnels have been discovered since 1990, Sixty percent of them discovered in just the last three years.  According to the Department of Justice’s accounting, the tunnel was estimated to span 800 yards, and likely a lot longer due to its “zig-zagging” route, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Salel put it. “It is equipped with rail and ventilation systems, lights and a sophisticated large elevator leading from the tunnel into a closet inside the Tijuana residence,” he added. “It is one of the narrowest tunnels found to date, with a diameter of just three feet for most of the length of the passageway.”

Many defense companies including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, are developing technologies for detecting tunnels. U.S. government is earmarking $120 million over the next three years and partnering with Israel to help develop a new tunnel detector. The goal, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Christopher Sherwood told Foreign Policy, “is to establish anti-tunnel capabilities to detect, map, and neutralize underground tunnels that threaten the U.S. or Israel…”

In  between 2001 and 2016, India has discovered at least eight tunnels originating from across the border along Pakistan, at an average of one every two years. And, only one of these is suspected to have been dug for drug running, while the others are linked to possible or successful infiltrations.

In March 2016, the Indian BSF floated a Request for Proposal for a pilot project of the CIBMS in two five-km patches along the border in Jammu. Tata Power SED and Dat Con have won a pilot project of the Ministry of Home Affairs to install an integrated border-guarding system to test technology for preventing infiltration, especially by detecting cross-border tunnels as well as possible entries through aerial and underwater routes. Called the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS), it is a major counter-infiltration measure to prevent cross-border terror attacks and detect tunnels.

Challenge of  detecting  terror tunnels

Part of the problem in detecting tunnels, say experts like Paul Bauman, a Canadian geophysicist, is the ground itself. Finding what is under the surface is not as simple as shooting radar or electromagnetic waves into the ground, he said. With underground cracks, water tables, tree roots and caves, it is hard to tell what is and is not a tunnel, he said. Mr. Bauman, who has worked with the Israel Defense Forces in their efforts to find tunnels, said most of the devices used for tunnel detection were developed for industries to find oil or mineral deposits, not drug tunnels.

Carey M. Rappaport, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, said the depth of many tunnels also posed a technological challenge. Some can be as deep as 90 feet, beyond the reach of most ground radar devices and sensors. “Soil is very good at keeping secrets,” said Mr. Rappaport, who has also worked with the United States and Israeli governments on  tunnel detection methods.

Recently, the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security concluded that none of the current methods used to detect underground tunnels were “necessarily suited to Border Patrol agents’ operational needs.”

Tunnel detection technologies

Most of the existing tunnel detecting capabilities are modifications of existing equipment originally used to detect land mines or natural gas and oil deposits. More sensitive, sophisticated techniques are needed to find tunnels, which exist between those two extremes of size and depth.

An Israeli company, Magna, has proposed digging a 70-km tunnel along the Israel-Gaza border, equipped with a sensitive alert system. The system shall be able to localize attack tunnel, estimate how many people are in it, and can monitor the progress of digging. Now, Israel Hayom reports, Israel has built its own network of defense tunnels along the Gaza border, with the cooperation of the United States.

Some of the technology solutions that have been found useful for tunnel detection are

The effectiveness of tunnel detection devices is directly related to the geophysical characteristics of local soil. DHS&T is in the process of collecting and compiling a database of existing derived and new geological and geophysical survey data along the border where the tunneling is most probable.


Ground penetrating Radar

Special radar mounted on a vehicle that uses pulses of appropriate frequency and ultra wideband waveforms to form an underground image. Its promising technology widely used in quality-testing roads, and to find unmarked graves, locate utility lines, trace subsurface geology, sweep for mines and search archaeological sites.

However, some of its limitations of this method is that it does not work well in most mediums like clay and rarely penetrates deeper than 40 ft and produces lots of false alarms even at shallow depths leading to waste of time and money. The developers are concentrating their efforts on using much lower frequencies that can penetrate the ground much deeper, and a sophisticated new imaging technology that can display clear pictures of deep tunnels.

The R2TD system developed by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center is a ground-penetrating radar capable of detecting tunnels deep within the ground. It employs sensors to detect acoustic and seismic energy. The R2TD system can be mounted in a vehicle or carried by a soldier to an area of interest, and is capable of transmitting data to a remote post for data analysis.

Surprise attacks by enemy troops hiding in tunnels are difficult to predict, although radar technology can help by finding the tunnels. The Rapid Reaction Tunnel Detection (R2TD) system can detect the underground void created by a tunnel, as well as electrical cables or devices within the tunnels, using ground-penetrating-radar (GPR) technology.

Because adversaries are continually adapting—using different tunnel depths and more complex maze configurations—the analysis software for the R2TD system must be continually refined, with increased transmit power for greater ground penetration.

The National Centre for Excellence in Technology for Internal Security (NCETIS) at IIT-B, which also has people working with other IITs, has developed a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) at 920MHz, which can not only detect tunnels but also landmines buried in soil. “Right now, we testing the equipment for ruggedness. We have a mandate that it needs to work in all terrains and conditions and once the ruggedness test is complete, we will begin the field trials in February,” Seema Periwal, project manager, NCETIS told TOI from Mumbai.


Seismic Sensor Network

The underground activity like digging, drilling, scraping, jack-hammering, can create the ground disturbances or vibrations that travel through the ground in the form of seismic waves and can be detected by seismic sensors like geophones buried under the ground.

Signal processing is the critical technology for extraction of data and intelligence from the signals generated by seismic sensors, identifying the type of activity like digging, walking, vehicle etc. and also the localization of activity. The intelligent algorithms can also filter out non-threatening vibrations, from construction equipment, traffic on nearby roads and underground subways, in order to minimize false alarms.


Other technologies

A combination of Airborne SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and GPR has also been proposed for underground tunnel detection. Some of the other proposals include measuring electrical resistivity through metal electrodes, microgravity sensors and detecting muons underground brought by cosmic rays hitting the earth.


Robots in anti-tunnel campaign

IDF‘s military robot Talon 4 has been used in  dangerous tunnels on  the Gaza Strip border instead of soldiers to reduce risks to troops.

Another are lightweight, portable Carrier Robots, that would be carried by soldiers on their backs. They shall be capable of scanning areas underground for many hours, mapping entire buildings and terror tunnels. It is equipped with cameras, sensors, and a communications system capable of transmitting signals from underground. The groundbreaking technology will allow soldiers to understand the exact appearance of any structure, helping them avoid the dangers of underground or urban combat as explained by Major Lior Trablisi, the head of the IDF’s robot and technology unit.

“Robotic-laptop soldier,” will assist soldiers from the Combat Engineering Corps and infantry soldiers in underground combat. The idea of this small-scope robot is to take on dangerous missions, including patrolling and collecting information for the fighters on the ground. This will solve many of the problems soldiers are forced to face when operating underground, such as collapsing walls and lack of oxygen and lighting.

Underground Iron Dome i.a. Against Hamas’ Terror Tunnels

Western sources reported on 11th March 2016, that the new weapon, dubbed the “Underground Iron Dome,” can detect a tunnel, then send in a moving missile ton blow it up. The new weapon is not counter measure only against threat from Gaza and Lebanon but against Iran nukes too.

US intelligence sources disclosed only that new weapon is equipped with seismic sensors to detect underground vibrations and map their location before destroying them. Western experts haven been talking for years about a secret Israeli weapon capable of destroying Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility, which is buried deep inside a mountain not farn from the Shiite shrine city of Qom.

They suggested that this hypothetical weapon could be slipped through the Fordo facility’s vents, thread its way  through the underground chambers and take down the illicit enrichment facility.  It was discussed again three years ago, when the Israeli Air Force on 23rd  Aug. 2013 blew up the Popular Palestinian Front-General Command underground  facility at Al-Naama on the South Lebanese coast, 15 km south of Beirut.


Tata on Indo-Pak border: Using tech to detect tunnels, check infiltration

The 3,323-km India-Pakistan border consists of the international border guarded by the BSF and the Line of Control guarded by the Indian Army. The border is porous which makes infiltration by terrorists possible. In the 1990s, the government had erected a fence along the entire length of the India-Pakistan border. But infiltration was still taking place. Over the years, the BSF has found several tunnels starting from Pakistan reaching into India.

The CIBMS will integrate sensors, communication, infrastructure, response, and command and control. It will be a force multiplier for the BSF. “Manpower along the border is irreplaceable, but human endurance has its limitations. With the CIBMS we can detect threats in advance and ensure a counter attack. This would lead to reduction in casualties,” said an official.

An important component of the CIBMS is satellite imagery. The BSF is already using satellite imagery. It helps the security forces in learning about the terrain and military fortifications across the border. It also helps in better planning of operations and border defences on the Indian side. However, not being real-time, they are not always useful.

The BSF has also planned to use UAVs as part of the CIBMS to launch them when required to gain real-time data.
Sensors such as those placed underground will also form part of the CIBMS. These sensors sound an alarm when a person steps near them, alerting the troops. “The firms will also be setting up equipment to detect cross-border tunnels and possible infiltration through aerial and underwater means. The pilot project will be the first to test such technology,” said an official. The RFP had stated the requirement of tracking low-level flying threats from 500 m up to 1 km. Sonars will also be used to track underwater movement.

In a statement issued yesterday, Tata Power said, “CIBMS will establish a seamless multi-tier security ring at the border using a variety of sensors, to identify any infiltration attempts and will be operational 24x7x365. Sensors (viz. Thermal Imager, Radar, Aerostat with EO Payload, Optical Fibre Intrusion Detection System, Unattended Ground Sensor and Underwater Sensor) can detect threats not just on the surface but also underground and underwater.”


References and Resources also include:


Security agencies are employing data analytics and AI tools for Crime Prevention

Crime is down but it is changing, said Rt Hon Theresa May MP Home Secretary, UK. While traditional high volume crimes like burglary and street violence have more than halved, previously ‘hidden’ crimes like child sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence have all become more visible, if not more frequent, and there is growing evidence of the scale of online fraud and cyber crime.

As with so many of the challenges we face as a society, the prevention of crime is better than cure. Stopping crime before it happens, and preventing the harm caused to victims, must be preferable to picking up the pieces afterwards.

Data and data analytics, tools have become critical in successfully preventing crime. Many police forces are already trialling forms of ‘predictive policing’, largely to forecast where there is a high risk of ‘traditional’ crimes like burglary happening, and plan officers’ patrol patterns accordingly, says UK’s Modern Crime Prevention Strategy. Data analytics can be used to identify vulnerable people, and to ensure potential victims are identified quickly and consistently.

China, a surveillance state where authorities have unchecked access to citizens’ histories, is developing artificial intelligence based tools that they say will help them identify and apprehend suspects before criminal acts are committed.

China planning to use AI technology to predict and prevent crime

China’s crime-prediction technology relies on several AI techniques, including facial recognition and gait analysis, to identify people from surveillance footage, according to The Financial Times. In addition, “crowd analysis” can be used to detect “suspicious” patterns of behaviour in crowds, for example to single out thieves from normal passengers at a train stations.

Facial recognition company Cloud Walk has been trialling a system that uses data on individuals’ movements and behaviour — for instance visits to shops where weapons are sold — to assess their chances of committing a crime. Its software warns police when a citizen’s crime risk becomes dangerously high, allowing the police to intervene.

“If we use our smart systems and smart facilities well, we can know beforehand . . . who might be a terrorist, who might do something bad,” said Li Meng, vice-minister of science and technology.

Another example of AI use in Chinese crime prediction is “personal re-identification” — matching someone’s identity even if spotted in different places wearing different clothes, a relatively recent technological achievement.

“We can use re-ID to find people who look suspicious by walking back and forth in the same area, or who are wearing masks,” said Leng Biao, professor of bodily recognition at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “With re-ID, it’s also possible to reassemble someone’s trail across a large area.”


Durham Constabulary Deploy AI for Crime Prevention

Durham Constabulary is preparing to trial an artificially intelligent system to help officers decided whether or not to keep a suspect in custody.

The Force, will use the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (Hart) to help officers decide if a suspect can be released from detention, based on the probability of offending once released. Hart has been trained on five years of the Force’s data (from 2008 – 2012), and will classify a suspect as either low, medium, or high risk of offending. The system was tested from 2013, with forecasts that a suspect was low risk accurate 98% of the time, while forecasts that suspects were high risk were accurate 88% of the time. The Hart system was developed in conjunction with the renowned Centre for Evidence-based Policing at the University of Cambridge.

The use of data analytics and AI to help inform police decision making is in line with the Home office’s aspirations outlined in last year’s Modern Crime Prevention Strategy. The Strategy acknowledges that better use of data and technology is one of the key pillars of effective modern crime prevention in the digital age, and outlines the Government’s role in “stripping away barriers to the effective use of data and data analytics, and helping others exploit new and existing technology to prevent crime.”

According to Modern Crime Prevention Strategy data analytics can:

  • Help police forces deploy officers to prevent crime in known hotspots (often called ‘predictive policing’)
  • Use information shared by local agencies on, for example, arrests, convictions, hospital admissions, and calls on children’s services to identify individuals who are vulnerable to abuse or exploitation
  • Spot suspicious patterns of activity that can provide new leads for investigators, such as large payments to multiple bank accounts registered at the same address
  • Show which products, services, systems or people are vulnerable to particular types of crime – for example that young women are disproportionately likely to have their smartphone stolen. This means system flaws can be addressed, or crime prevention advice (e.g. on mobile phone security measures) can be targeted more effectively.


SA Company to Use Artificial Intelligence to Predict Crime

Designed to predict and map potential crimes, Solution House Software has announced the launch of their new artificial intelligence (AI) module for Incident Desk. The Incident Desk Predictive Analysis module uses machine learning technology developed by Solution House together with aggregated data from multiple information sources to determine the likelihood of different types of criminal activity in the Incident Desk management area.

“With the module installed, Incident Desk generates 7 and 30-day forecasts as heat maps based on crime types and incident probabilities that managers can use to optimise their finite security resources,” says Janse van Rensburg.

“Crime is notoriously difficult to predict, but given that Incident Desk can access so many different types of data – including weather patterns and forecasts and historical data – the results are based on fairly accurate and proven trending algorithms,” her says.

One of the biggest problems currently plaguing public safety and security are the ‘islands of data’ that are not being shared or centralised, which makes it difficult to data mine and analyse.



References and resources also include:




Growing laser threats to airline pilots and soldiers require new protection technologies

“Lasers are a source of collimated, monochromatic, coherent light that can travel long distances with very little loss of intensity. This coherent property is what allows a laser to maintain a narrow, high-powered beam over long distances. This is also the cause of lasers being able to do damage to sensors, facilities, and personnel at a long range.


The military and security agencies  are using Handheld Lasers  to temporarily blind terrorists and at check points for crowd control. Lasers have been used en masse against riot police in demonstrations in regions as diverse as Canada, the U.S., Ireland, Thailand, Greece, Egypt, and Italy, among others.    In Seattle, WA, protesters at a WTO summit directed pointers in the field of vision of crowd-control police. In Cairo in 2013, dozens of green lasers were seen striking Egyptian military helicopters circling over Tahrir Square during large-scale gatherings, as well as directed against governmental buildings, police, and, at times, opposing protestors.


Until recently, the expense of lasers had limited their use to professional shows, but lower prices on handheld laser pointers have made this type of device widely available. They have also become easier to buy on the internet. However, these laser pointers have been cause of many aircraft accidents. According to the US-based Federal Aviation Authority, more than 2000 laser incidents were recorded in the US alone during the first four months of 2017, while in 2015 more than 10,000 laser incidents were reported to the FAA, and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority and Transport Canada.



Laser attacks targeting pilots and air crews are a major concern across the world with most attacks reported to take place during take-off and landing. They are typically caused by cheap, high-powered hand held devices that are readily available on the internet. Results of these attacks include distraction, obscuring of instruments and dials, a high probability for short-lived “flash” blindness and even permanent eye damage.


Therefore research is increasingly looking for laser protection technologies. Last year, the aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced that it was joining with Lamda Guard, a Canadian company, to test a metamaterial-based coating for cockpit windows to protect pilots in commercial aircraft from being blinded by laser pointers.

Effects of Laser attacks on Pilots

The FBI has  warned released public information films to warn about the effects of laser pointers, explaining how beams can blind pilots at night, with their effects intensified as light is dispersed by the cockpit windows. A laser illumination incident begins quite suddenly as the flight deck is filled with a bright light. The glare makes it difficult to concentrate on the flight instruments and can remove the crew’s visual references with the runway environment, making pilots unsure of their position relative to the runway and the ground. Green lasers, which have become increasingly more affordable, have been reported in more than 90 percent of the documented laser incidents,” says Boeing.

“Even weaker lasers could have serious consequences if pilots were distracted by the beams when landing planes: “It’s a critical point in flight, you have to have complete concentration. When it comes into the flight deck, it bounces around the walls of the cockpit,” said British Airline Pilots’ Association’s (Balpa) general secretary, Jim McAuslan.

Half of all pilots targeted in past year involved laser used in weaponry, says pilots’ association. Since 2004, more than 3,200 laser incidents have been reported within the United States, along with hundreds more internationally. Incidents are occurring not only in the United States but internationally as well. Reports of laser incidents have come from Australia, Canada, England, Germany, and Ireland. According to figures compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the number of reports of laser incidents in the UK has remained relatively constant at about four to five a day on average over the last four years.


Growing threat of  powerful Military lasers

The Chinese military has begun equipping its soldiers with handheld laser guns, in direct contravention of international treaties banning the use of blinding laser weapons. The official PLA Daily December 9th 2015 edition announced that Chinese soldiers are now in possession of laser guns. The PY132A laser gun, revealed during the Chinese Police Expo in December, is designed to blind enemy sensors and cameras and intended for use against enemy vehicles and drones. International conventions like the 1998 Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons ban the use of lasers and blinding weapons used against people.

Military forces worldwide are increasingly using lasers for many purposes including, range finding, anti-missile systems, target designation, ranging of guided munitions and the neutralizing of enemy weapon systems. Laser directed energy weapons are being developed to neutralize rockets, UAVs and missiles.

More powerful laser beams, those that are commonly found on laser-guided munitions and long-range designators, require extreme protection against ocular injury. Other lasers require less protection due to their relatively low power. Depending on the specific laser threat, laser light absorption may range from 99.99% to 99.999% to provide the required protection, thus avoiding ocular injury.

Military Lasers can also causes damage to optical components like mirrors, fibers, nonlinear crystal materials, prisms, optical filters, optical modulators and saturable absorbers, photodetectors and SESAMs.

Therefore military forces involved in multinational operations are increasingly looking for technologies both for protection of eye as well as optical components from lasers used by both friendly and foe. Keeping pace with rapidly advancing and eminently available laser technology requires a sophisticated and pragmatic countervailing response.


Laser Protection Technologies

With the continuous development of military equipment including lasers, researchers are constantly seeking to improve laser eye protection technologies.

Laser lenses protect the eyes by blocking laser light either through an absorptive dye or reflective coating. The amount of laser light that is blocked at a specific wavelength is referred to as the lens’ Optical Density (OD). High OD numbers provide an order of magnitude higher protection.

Technologies of the future include tunable laser protection to counteract the threat of tunable lasers (lasers which can change their operational wavelength) and to protect against multiple laser threats simultaneously.

Also being explored are optical switches and limiters that activate only in the presence of specific laser wavelengths. This allows the protection to stay completely clear until laser protection is needed and allows for excellent visible light transmission.

Protective glasses.

A variety of safety glasses are available that can protect the wearer from green laser energy; however, airlines should consider the drawbacks that are associated with them. Filtering light reduces the total amount of light entering the eye, which can adversely affect normal viewing, especially at night when most laser incidents occur.

People working in hazardous environments and industries in India will soon have cost-effective goggles that can protect their eyes and improve efficiency. Bengaluru-based Hind High Vacuum (HHV) has developed a technology for high power laser safety goggles made of coated glass. There are just handful of companies with this technological capability globally, said Prasanth Sakhamuri, Managing Director.

By using these goggles, people involved in handling high precision laser equipment in research and production of hazardous material and workplaces can protect their eyes from harmful exposure.

Laser Safety Goggles are available in three varieties based on the power of laser: low-power lasers need acrylic goggles, medium-power lasers need goggles made of treated glass and operating a high-power laser needs a goggle made of coated glass.


Dyes and dielectric coatings for laser protection

A laser protective dye is a pigment that is added to the lens material during the injection molding process. This dye neutralizes laser threats by absorbing laser light before it can reach the eye. Laser protective dyes are widely used due to their relative low cost and ability to retain high ballistic properties. While effective, there is a drawback: lenses that protect against multiple wavelengths require the use of two or more dyes which significantly reduces the light transmission of the lens. This makes it darker and therefore less suitable for low light applications.

The dielectric coatings are made of a fine stack of layers with different reflective properties. Currently, laser protective dielectric coatings are limited in their use due to their very high cost – a lens with dielectric coatings is roughly 10 to 20 times more expensive than a lens made using laser protective dye. Dielectric coatings are also easily scratched and generally require additional anti-abrasion protection.


BAE protection system

Utilising a novel technology, BAE Systems has developed a system to block laser attacks against aircraft and their crews. Engineers at the defense and aerospace giant have developed a low-cost, lightweight system that can block dangerous laser light to protect pilots from hostile attacks.

Utilizing a novel film, the technique is selective in the way it prevents laser transmission, meaning a high level of natural light through can still pass though the canopy with minimal color distortion. As a result, pilots are protected from dangerous laser incidents with no deterioration in vision.

Dr Leslie Laycock, an executive scientist at BAE Systems commented, “A series of successful trials undertaken in a laboratory environment have proven that our method is effective against a wide variety of laser wavelengths. We have been able to achieve a visible light transmission in excess of 70%.

“Our system allows the majority of the light through the protective film, without the need for pilots to wear heavily tinted industrial goggles. This allows pilots to more effectively see instruments and their surroundings, whilst simultaneously blocking the dangerous laser light.”

As technology advances, the wavelength of proliferated lasers may change. Due to the adaptability of this technology, pilots will always be protected as the film can simply be upgraded and selectively tuned to combat new laser threats. The next phase of development will see experimentation and commercialisation within the public sector.


Boeing patents a laser detection system to protect aircraft and pilots from hand held lasers

Military pilots are not only at risk of temporary blindness due to hand-held lasers, but are also subject to being “designated” by laser targeting. Generally in connection with military aircraft, laser detection devices register laser radiation from laser rangefinders or laser designators and by a warning signal to make clear to the designated aircraft, i.e., pilot, that laser illumination has occurred or is continuing. Reliable detection and identification of laser radiation may be critical to mission success and accurate information related to the type of laser may provide for appropriate countermeasures.

“The present invention is a laser detection and warning system may include a detector configured to be mounted to an aircraft, the detector including an optical subsystem, a detector subsystem, and a processor subsystem to determine characteristics of incoming laser radiation and transmit a laser warning output signal, wherein the laser warning output signal includes wavelength characteristics of the laser radiation and corresponding protective eyewear type.

Soldier protection systems

Australian Army has introduced an enhanced ballistic laser ocular protection system (BLOPS) as part of the new soldier combat ensemble that provides ballistic, environmental and laser protection to soldiers. However they provide protection against limited spectrum of common lasers (laser lenses).

Protection against Multi wavelength Lasers

U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), has developed a new optical system to protect soldiers using magnified direct-view optics, such as gunner’s primary sights on battle tanks, against eye-damaging Multi wavelength lasers.

The filters which are used to block single wavelength lasers are ineffective against wavelength-diverse lasers, unless they block the entire visible spectrum. The new technology incorporates laser-protection cells at the focal planes, where a laser threat’s energy is focused, that absorb and disperse the laser energy, weakening the light and distributing it over a larger area of the retina to minimize eyesight damage.

The system was tested against a multiple wavelength laser system developed by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Survivability/Lethality Analysis Directorate (SLAD) which simulated “a worst-case, visible laser threat” in terms of its energy, pulse width, beam size and divergence.”

Optex Systems to deliver laser-protected periscopes to US Army

US-based optical sighting systems manufacturer Optex Systems has secured a contract to supply new periscopes for the US Army. Under the terms of the $841,000 deal, the company will supply an undisclosed number of periscopes to be installed aboard the army’s Abrams tanks.

The periscopes will feature glass and plastic laser protection for soldiers’ eyes. “We take pride in providing great optics solutions for our soldiers who are utilising and maintaining the current Abrams fleet.”

Laser damage to eye

The visible and invisible wavelengths in a laser beam present a unique hazard to the human eye and can cause instantaneously vision disruption, distraction, disorientation, and even eye damage. The threat posed by lasers is often hidden – those in the invisible spectrum cannot be detected by the human eye and without proper protection the eyes can be severely damaged. How a laser affects the eye depends on the wavelength of the laser, the power level, and the duration of the exposure.

The human eye sensitivity peaks in the green range and perceives green 30 times brighter than red. When comparing a green and a red laser of equal power output, the green one will appear much brighter than the red. The eye’s natural defense for bright visible light is the blink response, which can take effect within a quarter of a second.

Nonvisible light can be in the wavelength range of ultraviolet (200 to 380 nanometers), near infrared (750 to 1,400 nanometers), or mid to far infrared (1,400 nanometers to 1 millimeter). Nonvisible lasers also enter the optical system and affect the eye, but they are not visible and present a different challenge: the blink response only works with visible light, so there is no natural protection for the eye when outside the visible spectrum.

Laser Light can have very high optical intensities, because it is usually delivered in the form of a laser beam with small transverse dimensions, and in addition it is often generated in the form of short or even ultrashort laser pulses.

Exposure to a strong laser light source can result in flash blindness and afterimages. In flash blindness, exposure to a very bright light source can deprive pilots of vision for a period of time ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. This can be followed by afterimages, such as the yellow and purple dots seen after a flash photo. Again, these afterimages will disappear in time.

In the most serious exposures to lasers, the lens of the eye concentrates the light energy on the retina and can actually burn the retinal tissue. The human eye can compensate for small area retinal burns by looking around them, but large area retinal burns can mean permanent loss of vision for the affected area.



References and Resources also include:









Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism leverage technology for fighting online propaganda of Terrorists

Leaders from the G20 nations, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called for concrete steps to check radicalisation, hiring and arranging of funds for terror activities through misuse of internet and social media. Asserting that the rule of law applies online as well as offline, the G20 leaders issued a 21-point joint declaration on various steps needed to be taken to fight terrorism.

On October 31, 2017, a person drove a rented pickup truck into cyclists and runners for about one mile (1.6 kilometers) of the Hudson River Park’s bike path alongside West Street from Houston Street south to Chambers Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City. The vehicle-ramming attack killed eight people and injured 11 others. Early reports suggested Saipov was “self-radicalized”. John Miller, the deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department, said Saipov did it in the name of ISIS, a jihadist militant group fighting in the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars, and appeared to have followed “almost exactly to a T” the group’s advice on social media on how to carry out vehicular attacks.

Terrorist groups increasingly using social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to further their goals and spread their message, because of its convenience, affordability and broad reach of social media. The leaders called for countering radicalisation conducive to terrorism and the use of internet for terrorist purposes. The counter terrorism actions must continue to be part of a comprehensive approach, including combating radicalisation and recruitment, hampering terrorist movements and countering terrorist propaganda, the declaration said.

The G20 leaders also underlined that appropriate filtering, detecting and removal of content that incites terrorist acts is crucial. “… we also encourage collaboration with industry to provide lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information where access is necessary for the protection of national security against terrorist threats,” they said.

Major  social media and tech companies  including Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Google-owned YouTube are forming a new coalition called the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.This consortium will pool technology, research, and counterterrorism tactics including “counter-speech,” which tries to prevent terrorist recruitment and incitement.

“The forum we have established allows us to learn from and contribute to one another’s counter-speech efforts, and discuss how to further empower and train civil society organisations and individuals, who may be engaged in similar work and support ongoing efforts such as the civil society empowerment project (CSEP).”

One of the technologies that the group is likely to share is artificial intelligence, something Facebook recently said it believed would be key to tackling the rise of hate speech and terrorist recruitment online.


Social Media Platforms Becoming a Tool of Terror

There has been a dramatic increase in global terrorist violence in recent years. According to Aon’s 2017 Risk Map, there were 4,151 terrorists attacks worldwide in 2016, a 14% increase from the 3,633 recorded in 2015, with oil and gas companies the target of 41% of attacks on commercial interests.  Western countries experienced a 174% rise, up from 35 in 2015 to 96 last year, although this accounts for less than 3% of terrorist violence globally, with countries in North Africa and the Middle East the most at risk.

Social media platforms have a huge global reach and audience, with YouTube boasting more than 1 billion users each month. This breaks down into 6 billion hours of video that are being watched each month and 100 h of video are uploaded to YouTube every month (YouTube Statistics, 2014). Similarly, Twitter has on average 350,000 tweets being sent per minute and 500 million tweets per day (Twitter, 2014), whilst Facebook remains the largest social media network with 500 million active users and 55 million people sending updates (Fiegerman, 2014).

Al-Qaeda has an Internet presence spanning nearly two decades. Al-Qaeda terrorists use the internet to distribute material anonymously or ‘meet in dark spaces’. The Czech Military Intelligence Service commented that Al-Qaeda are spreading its ideology among the Muslim community in Europe, mainly through the means of social media.

Taliban militants fighting the Afghan government and NATO-led forces to regain power in the militancy- plagued Afghanistan, have been enormously using the internet in the propaganda war. Today, the Taliban outfit has several websites to publish their military and political activities and put on wire for its readers across the globe. The Taliban has been active on Twitter since May 2011, and has many thousands of followers.

ISIS use of social media platforms have been as phenomenal as his successes in the battlefield. It is running a sophisticated propaganda campaign to broadcast its gruesome brutality online and recruit beyond the Middle East. Isis has proved fluent in YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, internet memes and other social media. Its posting activity has ramped up during a recent offensive, reaching an all-time high of almost 40,000 tweets in one day as they marched into the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

ISIS posting its executions of James Foley, David Cawthorne Haines, Alan Henning, and Steven Sotloff, online are causing havoc among the population viewing them, and instill fear within the Western world.  They are  able to use these videos, tweets, Facebook posts and forums into online radicalisation tools, whereby they are able to glamorise ‘extremism’ and make it appear as though fighting with them is ‘cool’.

Recently articles in IS propaganda  have appeared giving instructions on how to carry out attacks, such as the “Just Terror” section in Rumiyah, IS’ latest English language publication, and instructional videos, such as “How to slaughter the disbelievers”, released by IS in November 2016.  In a study by Gabriel Weimann from the University of Haifa, Weimann found that, terror groups use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and internet forums to spread their messages, recruit members and gather intelligence.


Some have suggesting putting more pressure on social media groups like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to remove content produced by terror groups.


Challenges of fighting online propaganda of Terrorists

Twitter noted that “there is no ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the Internet, so global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgment calls based on very limited information and guidance.” Further, the same users could quickly open new accounts.

In a blog post, the company said its actions went beyond the account suspensions. “We have increased the size of the teams that review reports, reducing our response time significantly. We also look into other accounts similar to those reported and leverage proprietary spam-fighting tools to surface other potentially violating accounts for review by our agents. We have already seen results, including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off of Twitter.”

Twitter added it works with law-enforcement agencies when appropriate and partners with groups that work to counter extremist content online. But it also acknowledged that regulating speech on Twitter wasn’t easy. It said: As an open platform for expression, we have always sought to strike a balance between the enforcement of our own Twitter Rules covering prohibited behaviors, the legitimate needs of law enforcement, and the ability of users to share their views freely – including views that some people may disagree with or find offensive. As many experts and other companies have noted, there is no ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the internet, so global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgement calls based on very limited information and guidance.

The leaders of Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda and their subsidiaries—survive because they are quick to adapt to changes in the physical and virtual battlespace, writes Philip Seib in Fortune.  “For some of their online communication, this has meant moving from the easily accessible “surface web” to the “deep web” and then on to its deepest part, the “dark web.” This is where one can find drugs, pornography, weapons, and other contraband. The dark web is out of reach of the most common search engines, such as Google, and is difficult for hackers to penetrate. IS warehouses its propaganda videos and other material on dark sites, and has raised and transferred money using the dark web’s currency of choice, Bitcoin.”

Artificial intelligence  to deter and remove terrorist propaganda online

Artificial Intelliegence  and data analytics, tools have become critical in successfully preventing crime. Many police forces are already trialling forms of ‘predictive policing’, largely to forecast where there is a high risk of ‘traditional’ crimes like burglary happening, and plan officers’ patrol patterns accordingly, says UK’s Modern Crime Prevention Strategy. Data analytics can be used to identify vulnerable people, and to ensure potential victims are identified quickly and consistently. These tools can also be used  to pinpoint and monitor pathways to radicalization, stop the spread of terrorist propaganda and better identify individuals being radicalized.

Facebook has started using the artificial intelligence programmes it uses to deter and remove terrorist propaganda online after the platform was criticised for not doing enough to tackle extremism. In a landmark post titled “hard questions”, Monika Bickert, Director of Global Policy Management, and Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Policy Manager explained Facebook has been developing artificial intelligence to detect terror videos and messages before they are posted live and preventing them from appearing on the site.

“When someone tries to upload a terrorist photo or video, our systems look for whether the image matches a known terrorism photo or video. This means that if we previously removed a propaganda video from ISIS, we can work to prevent other accounts from uploading the same video to our site.

“We have also recently started to experiment with using AI to understand text that might be advocating for terrorism.” Facebook also detailed how it is working with other platforms, clamping down on accounts being re-activated by people who have previously been banned from the site and identifying and removing clusters of terror supporters online.

The social media platform, which is used by billions of people around the world, also explained it employs thousands of people to check posts and has a dedicated counter-terrorism team. “Our Community Operations teams around the world — which we are growing by 3,000 people over the next year — work 24 hours a day and in dozens of languages to review these reports and determine the context. This can be incredibly difficult work, and we support these reviewers with onsite counseling and resiliency training,” it said.


Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism


In June, 2017, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube announced  the formation of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which will help us continue to make our hosted consumer services hostile to terrorists and violent extremists.

The spread of terrorism and violent extremism is a pressing global problem and a critical challenge for us all. We take these issues very seriously, and each of our companies have developed policies and removal practices that enable us to take a hard line against terrorist or violent extremist content on our hosted consumer services. We believe that by working together, sharing the best technological and operational elements of our individual efforts, we can have a greater impact on the threat of terrorist content online.

“Our mission is to substantially disrupt terrorists’ ability to use the internet in furthering their causes, while also respecting human rights. This disruption includes addressing the promotion of terrorism, dissemination of propaganda, and the exploitation of real-world terrorist events through online platforms.”

To achieve this, we will join forces around three strategies:

  • Employing and leveraging technology
  • Sharing knowledge, information and best practices, and
  • Conducting and funding research.


The coalition said the companies share both technology and operational activities  that it will refine and improve existing joint technical work, such as the Shared Industry Hash Database, and define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removal. It will also be working directly with governments, civil society groups, academics and other companies to share information about the latest terrorist activities.

In the next several months, we also aim to achieve the following:

Secure the participation of five additional companies to the industry hash-sharing database for violent terrorist imagery; two of which have already joined: Snap Inc. and Justpaste.

Reach 50 companies to share best practices on how to counter terrorism online through the Tech Against Terrorism project in partnership with ICT4Peace and the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate.

Conduct four knowledge-sharing workshops — starting in San Francisco today, with plans for further meetings later this year in other locations around the world


Counterterrorism Strategy

Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ, a British intelligence and security organization, has called for greater support from web companies, by trying harder to meet the security agencies half-way in a joint enterprise that will protect the privacy of most users while helping to identify those who would do us harm.

Although some counterterrorism programs use social media to push back against extremist rhetoric, these efforts are too limited. The internet propaganda has to be countered vociferously on the internet and social media. A prominent Syrian Sunni cleric condemned the ISIS killing of the American Peter Kassig and said that ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “is going to hell.” “We have to speak loud and very clear that Muslims and Islam have nothing to do with this,” Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “ISIS has no nationality. Its nationality is terror, savagery, and hatred.”


Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger the authors of “ISIS: The State of Terror.” Have suggested six point plan to Defeat ISIS in the Propaganda War:

1. Stop exaggerating ISIS’s invincibility: A first step in countering ISIS is to put it in perspective. We should not downplay its threat below a realistic level. But neither should we inflate it. Strikes designed to degrade the group’s real internal strength are good, but our targeting priorities should also aim to expose vulnerabilities for counterpropaganda purposes.

2. Amplify the stories of the real wives of ISIS, and other defectors: We need to amplify the stories of defectors and refugees from the areas that ISIS controls. Stories about the horrific real lives of jihadi wives need to be told, by women who manage to run away.

3. Take on ISIS’s version of Islam: ISIS has developed convoluted arguments about why it engages in war crimes that are forbidden by Islamic law. Hundreds of religious scholars have taken on ISIS’s interpretation of Islam. Those arguments need to get to the right audience: ISIS’s potential recruits. At least some of those recruits can be reached via social media, including via one-on-one conversations.

4. Highlight ISIS’s hypocrisy: ISIS makes much of its supposedly puritanical virtue and promotion of chastity, whipping women who do not wear attire ISIS considers appropriate and executing gay men by throwing them off the tops of buildings. Yet according to the U.N. and ISIS’s own propaganda, its fighters are involved in a wide range of horrifying sexual abuse, from sexual slavery to the reported rape of men and women, including both adults and children. In this area and many others, ISIS’s deranged double standards should be addressed head-on.

5. Publicize ISIS’s atrocities against Sunnis: We need to fully exploit aerial and electronic surveillance and remote imaging to show what really happens in the belly of the beast. We should pay particular attention to documenting war crimes and atrocities against Sunni Muslims in regions controlled by ISIS. It is patently obvious that ISIS has no qualms about advertising its war crimes against certain classes of people — Shi’a Muslims primarily, and religious minorities like the Yazidis. ISIS claims to protect Sunnis from sectarian regimes in both Iraq and Syria. While ISIS is happy to flaunt its massacres of Shi’ites and Iraqi military personnel, it has been relatively quiet in regard to its massacres of uncooperative Sunni tribes. Our countermessaging should highlight the murder of Sunnis in particular.

6. Aggressively suspend ISIS social-media accounts: There is a robust debate over the merits of suspending extremist social-media accounts, which encompasses a complex set of issues including free speech and the question of who should decide what content is acceptable. What we do know, based on an analysis of tens of thousands of Twitter accounts, is that suspensions do limit the audience for ISIS’s gruesome propaganda. The current rate of suspensions is damaging the ISIS social-media machine. The practice should be maintained at the current rate at the very least — but it would be better to get more aggressive.

The nations fighting ISIS need an organization to run a counternarrative campaign. One model, still in a testing phase, is called P2P: Challenging Extremism. This initiative provides an opportunity for university students from the U.S., Canada, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, Australia and Asia to create an online community whose goal is to counter the extremist narrative by becoming educated influencers.


UN Security Council said, “In addition to security, legal and intelligence measures, most also stressed the need to provide a counter-narrative to radicalization, addressing root causes and working with communities in that regard.”


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UAVs are proving to be disruptive technology for disaster planning, response and relief operations

Over the past two decades, the impact of disasters has been devastating, affecting 4.4 billion people, resulted in 1.3 million causalities and $2 trillion in economic losses. The first 24 hours following an earthquake, hurricane or tornado are critical in terms of damage assessment, and search and rescue.


UAVs have emerged new disruptive technology for disaster management, Portable micro-UAVs can be launched quickly in dangerous situations, locate survivors and send data about their whereabouts to responders on the ground. In preliminary research conducted in Europe last year, drones found isolated people much faster than did traditional ground-based rescue teams. Drones can also deliver rescue ropes and life jackets in areas that are too dangerous for ground-based rescuers to venture into. Drones are also providing help in the aftermath of disasters — for example, to assess damage to buildings, roads and bridges, and power lines.


UAS is becoming increasingly popular for civilian use due to their relatively low cost, ease of operation and the emergence of low cost navigation and imaging sensors, with performances comparable to higher priced sensors. Prices for commercial UAVs range from $15,000 to $50,000 — a fraction of what a helicopter costs. They can fit in the trunk of a car and be up in the air in no time. The global commercial UAV market is expected to reach $2.07 billion by 2022, according to a new study by Grand View Research Inc. In recent years, several humanitarian organizations and governments have used UAVs in disaster management, most notably for assessing vulnerabilities before an emergency and damage after the disaster.

Increase of Employment of UAVs

The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) coordinated the largest known deployment of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) by public officials for a federally declared disaster- both serving as Air Operations for manned and unmanned aircraft and deploying small UAS ranging in size from DJI Mavics to the Insitu ScanEagle.


The deployment was for the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management with whom CRASAR had provided assets for previous floods. CRASAR flew 119 mission flights from August 25 (preparing for landfall) to September 4 (when the emergency life-saving response and restoration of services phases of the disaster were largely over), with a record 61 flights on one day. The deployment was led by Justin Adams, who served as Air Operations branch director for Fort Bend County manned unmanned ops and CRASAR Roboticists Without Borders coordinator.


The UAS flights were for

  • rapid spot checks of situation awareness of people in distress
  • the extent of flood and tornado damage
  • how many people had not evacuated, access routes to neighborhoods
  • projecting how long the neighborhoods would be cut off, throughout the county (which is very large and hard to get a handle on)- based on information coming to EOC, the county’s projections and knowledge from 2016 floods- not just easiest or most compelling for media to fly or waiting for complete coverage by manned assets
  • inform the public and dispel rumors- allowed County Judge Hebert  to immediately and directly address Citizens’ concerns and dispel rumors, e.g., postings to social media about a particular neighborhood, then tasked to fly that neighborhood to get eyes on to inform the EOC as to the situation and to show the community; water is coming over the Richmond railroad bridge
  • systematically document damage for federal disaster relief and future planning
  • project river flooding by monitoring the river and confirming river flood inundation models
  • monitor the river and condition of over 100 miles of levees through out the county


They have already been deployed by humanitarian actors in Haiti and the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda for mapping, improved situational awareness and needs assessment. During magnitude-7. 0 earthquake, which jolted southwest china’s Sichuan province People Liberation Army (PLA) employed UAV’s for capturing high resolution pictures that provided valuable information about the location of landslides, damaged roads etc.


Dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles were deployed in Houston in response to Hurricane Harvey, and UAVs are expected to be out in full force across Florida in coming days. Experts say UAVs will likely play an even bigger role in relief efforts when future storms or earthquakes hit.


When Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the city of Tacloban in the Philippines in November 2013, UAV of the size of a backpack with a range of up to five kilometers and a high-resolution video camera was used to assist humanitarian responders. It was first used to identify where to set up a base of operations, and then to check if roads were passable, a task that could take days when done on foot or by helicopter. The UAV was also flown up the coast to evaluate damage from storm surge and flooding and to see which villages had been affected. The aerial assessments “really helped to speed up …efforts, cut down on wasted time and work, and make them more accurate in their targeting of assistance.” It was also suggested that the UAV might have located survivors in the rubble using infrared cameras if it had arrived within 72 hours.


 Disasters and Disaster Management

In 2014, 324 triggered natural disasters were registered killing 7,823, and 140.8 million people become victims worldwide. The cost of disasters worldwide has reached an average of $250 billion to $300 billion every year, according to the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction released by the United Nations.


Over the last decade, China, the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia and India constitute together the top 5 countries that are most frequently hit by natural disasters. These are expected to further exacerbate in the future as there is further increase in extreme climate events. Nuclear power plants, chemical plants, microbiological research labs and military warehouses are other High risk areas. There is tremendous risks to countries and communities that are unprepared for such risks


Van Wassenhove (2006) proposed a classification of natural and man-made disasters according to the speed with which the disaster strikes: slow-onset or sudden-onset. Famine, drought, political, and refugee crises are examples of the former category, whereas the latter includes, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes, technological failures, and terrorist attacks.


There are four primary stages of a disaster management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Mitigation is assessing possible sources of crisis and identifying sets of activities to reduce and/or eliminate those sources so that crisis never happens or its impact is reduced. Preparedness is developing a crisis response plan and training all the involved parties so that in the case of a crisis people know their roles and will effectively be able to deal with it. Response constitutes the set of immediate actions taken after a crisis occurs, and it aims to reduce the impact by utilizing the plans created during the preparedness stage. Recovery is the final set of activities in which the objective is to support all involved parties until they resume their normal operations. The UAVS can be of tremendous utility in all of these phases of operations.

UAVs for disaster management

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as remotely piloted aircraft or “drones” are small aircraft that fly by remote control or autonomously. Although previously associated with the military, UAVs are increasingly performing civilian tasks as the technology becomes more common – 57 countries and 270 companies were producing UAVs in 2013. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forecast that some 7,500 commercial small UAVs could be flying in the U.S. within five years.


UAVs vary greatly in size, flying capability, capacity and methods of control. At the larger end, are systems of the size of a manned plane like Predator that can fly up to 25,000 feet for 40 hours, guided via satellites by a pilot up to 7,500 miles away. At the other end are mini and micro UAVs systems, that are small enough to be carried by one or two people, with some easily fitting in a backpack or weighing less than a kilogram. They can include both fix-wing aircraft, better at distance flying, and rotor aircraft that can hover. These systems are generally limited in range to anything from line of sight to a few kilometres, and to flight times under an hour. Operating these systems is much simpler, with little training required.


Due to their affordability, ease of transport, and regulatory concerns UAVs used in humanitarian response are likely to be small or micro-UAVs of up to a few kilograms, while larger systems will remain the province of military and civil defense actors.


Key Issues to consider UAV’s while employing them for Disaster Management are the deciding the airframe and sensor suitability to the “event,” requirement of autonomous or “remote operation”, capabilities for data telemetry, examine data compression if required to telemeter large data volumes, and capabilities for data handling on ground.


of Queensland this week and was followed by severe flooding in NSW. Follow updates on the flooding in NSW and the Queensland clean-up in our live blog “I think during the recovery and reconstruction, rebuilding process … providing this high resolution, high frequency imagery, it’s going to make all the difference,” Dr Meier said.


UAVs now preferred means for Effective emergency response

Effective emergency response and sustainable post-disaster reconstruction are crucial and lie at the heart of disaster management activities.


Data collection and observation

The most common use of UAVs in humanitarian response today is data-collection and observation. UAVs Provide Unique capabilities for Data Acquisition, they can fly at extreme altitudes continuously for from hours to days, without need of any pilot on board and provide real-time telemetry capabilities. UAVs can collect critical disaster information in real time to affect decision processes.


Satellite imagery has also played a pivotal role in relief operations for almost two decades now. But satellites do present a number of limitations including cost, data sharing restrictions, cloud cover, and the time needed to acquire images.


In contrast, UAVs can capture aerial imagery at a far higher resolution, more quickly and at much lower cost. And unlike satellites, members of the public can actually own UAVs. This means that disaster affected communities can launch their own UAVs in response to a crisis.


Real time information and situation monitoring

The most common use of UAVs is the provision of high-altitude video feed or photos, allowing a rapid overview of conditions. More sophisticated systems can broadcast a live feed directly or over the internet. These images can assist in tasks that include:

  • Rapid assessment of damage, such collapsed buildings or blocked roads
  • Monitoring distribution of goods, such as tarpaulins or tents
  • Identifying and analysing temporary settlements or tracking displacement or movement of people even the least expensive UAV systems can aid in these tasks, often using standard cameras

UAVs can be equipped with a wide range of monitoring equipment, from a strapped-on smartphone to infrared systems or Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) that can see through cloud cover, forest canopy or even buildings.

The success of the reconstruction phases, i.e., rescue, relief, and rehabilitation, is mainly dependent on the accessibility to the site, availability of efficient project teams and timely information to make informed decision.

Search for survivors and rescue

Interest is building in the use of UAVs to assist in search and rescue, particularly when equipped with infrared, or other specialty cameras. For example, the European Union is funding ICARUS, a research project to develop unmanned search and rescue tools to assist human teams.


Artemenko et al. (2014) develop an UAV that moves around buildings and localizes “survived” devices inside a building. This can help to detect victims and to accelerate the rescue process – in which fast and accurate localization is essential. A LMAT (Localization algorithm with a Mobile Anchor node based on Trilateration) path planning algorithm is being validated using simulations and evaluated in experiments using a real UAV.

3D mapping, mapping of affected areas and image analysis

The main objective of early impact analysis after a disaster is to define the damages of infrastructure and/or to facilities, and that requires suitable data, such as high resolution satellite images. The 3D mapping and the image analysis provide more clear views of the affected areas as input data for early impact analysis in medium and large-scale map.


UAVs can rapidly produce geo-references (GPS accurate) or 3D maps that are often more detailed and faster than satellite imagery. This mapping enables improved logistics, awareness of informal communities, damage assessments, disaster risk reduction or early warning activities, agricultur­al monitoring to promote food security, flood monitoring, etc. This type of mapping requires specialized equipment, software and training.


Patterson et al. (2014) present novel work on autonomously identifying Safe Landing Zones (SLZs) through image analysis which can be utilized upon occurrence of a safety critical event.


Logistics and package-delivery

Information collection may be just the first step, as the hu­manitarian community explores the use of UAVs for delivery of in-kind goods. The US military uses unmanned Kaman K-Max helicopters that can deliver over 2,700 kg in Afghan­istan, a few delivery projects have been tested in China, and pilot projects have been announced in Australia and New Zealand, by the US retailer Amazon, and others. Jack C. Chow, former Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, has suggested that UAVs “can supple­ment existing supply chains or provide emergency drops


They can act as quick delivery agents for high-value supplies, such as medicines, through sky which might be only route possible during early response activities, as UAVs could traverse terrain that might be impassable otherwise. They also appreciated their potential to supply lighting, power and connectively from the air until more permanent solutions on the ground can be restored post-disaster.


Google has already built and tested autonomous aerial vehicles, and believes they could be used for goods deliveries. They could be used after earthquakes, floods, or extreme weather events, the company suggested, to take small items such as medicines or batteries to people in areas that conventional vehicles cannot reach (STEWART, 2014).



This rapid growth has resulted in a low level of awareness for safe and compliant operation of UAV’s This low level of awareness will create challenges for industries on how to best utilize UAV applications


However, at present, UAVs cannot autonomously detect or avoid other UAVs, aircraft or obstacles such as buildings, and therefore present a severe concern for mid-air collisions. As a consequence, they cannot be flown out of line of sight or within close proximity to large gatherings of people, thus restricting their uses within the commercial sector. In order for a UAS to safely navigate in the already crowded aerial environment of the modern world, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other international organizations have mandated that unmanned aircraft must have an on-board Sense and Avoid (SAA).


The aims of Sense and Avoid technology, also referred to as ‘detect and avoid’, sense and avoid’ or ‘collision avoidance’ technology are the same; to detect aircraft & obstacles within the vicinity of the UAV and to execute manoeuvres to restore a safe situation if needed.


UAVs must be reliable and have the ability to take appropriate action when some functionality is lost due to failure. Brazenaite et al. (2010) present a reconfiguration process, which is based on optimizing the mission reliability under its current conditions and environment. This is demonstrated using a UAV carrying out a search and rescue operation.


Harnett et al. (2008) demonstrate an experimental surgical robot using an UAV as a network topology. For the first time, a mobile surgical robotic system was deployed to an austere environment and surgeons were able to remotely operate the systems wirelessly using a UAV.

Future Directions

UAVs can be employed for Volcanic Event Monitoring, Tsunami Monitoring, Hurricane Tracking, Flooding and Major Storm Events and Earthquake-triggered events.


University of Bristol has developed the drone, called the ARM system for Incidents like Fukishima Disaster, through project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Sellafield. The drone has visual, thermal and radiation monitoring payloads for radiation mapping of radioactively contaminated sites like those of Fukishima disaster. The team is also working on UAV mapping and exploration algorithms for detecting buried explosives and depleted uranium ordinance.

Disaster assessment

Researchers of University of New Mexico, along with partners at San Diego State University and BAE Systems, under Commercial Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Technologies Program (CRS&SI), are exploring the ability of UAV to layer a pictorial history of an area prior to a disaster with post-disaster images, and immediately deliver any deviations to engineers and support staff on the ground for timely decisions on how to mitigate such things as road washouts, bridge damage, or other critical infrastructure abnormalities.

UAV formations

The future trend is to use Multi-RPAS use  during disasters. These are either flown one at a time (depending on the needs of the mission and the general location/weather conditions) or then multiple RPAS are airborne at the same time (for search and rescue tasks, for example).

This “Swarm RPAS” approach may lead to several RPAS being used to scan certain areas for a missing person simultaneously and cover more ground quicker. Or a “Lead RPAS” could, through computer vision and algorithms, send potential findings to a “Follow RPAS” that will then fly directly to that location for a closer look, while “Lead RPAS” will continue its search pattern.

Currently flying multiple RPAS systems can introduce additional challenges, from potential flight-path interference to video signal interference. As with any team-work tasks, proper communication is needed  between the drone operators and support teams.

Quaritsch et al. (2010) deploy an aerial sensor network with small-scale, battery-powered and wirelessly connected UAVs carrying cameras for disaster management applications. The UAVs fly in formations and cooperate to achieve a certain mission. This paper focus on the optimal placement of sensors formulating the coverage problem as integer linear program (ILP).


As the number of disaster is still increasing, it indicates that there is a need for research on UAV applications on the pre disaster phases. The Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction 2015 – 2030 therefore emphasis on disaster risk management as opposed to disaster management, a goal focused on preventing new risk and reducing existing risk (UNISDR, 2015, cited by Niederer, 2015).

The article sources also include:









DARPA ‘s urban combat software will allow commanders to compose force packages dynamically during the mission

Cities have become the new battleground and Hybrid or Urban Warfare the greatest threat being waged by ISIS to Boko Haram to Hamas to Ukraine rebels.  Urban warfare is fundamentally unchanged since World War I in many regards: battle is human-centric, with most casualties resulting from discovering the enemy; a highly distributed defense requires combined arms tactics that incur high logistical and coordination costs; and the presence of a civilian populace means that indiscriminate force is not an option and precision effects are required. Historically, US forces have prevailed in the urban battlespace through the initiative and adaptability of lower echelon (company and below) commanders to overcome adversaries in highly tactical settings.

As nation-state and non-state adversaries adapt and apply commercially available state-of-the-art technology in urban conflict, expeditionary U.S. forces face a shrinking operational advantage in potential future military conflicts, which are most likely to be fought in littoral and coastal cities.

DARPA’s  proposed software as the Prototype Resilient Operations Testbed for Expeditionary Urban Scenarios (PROTEUS) seeks to enhance battle management, command and control (BMC2) capabilities to maintain a U.S. advantage in future urban combat. DARPA under PROTEUS aims to create and demonstrate tools to develop and test agile expeditionary urban operations concepts based on dynamically composable force packages.

DARPA’s PROTEUS program was conceived to address the holes in the virtual BMC2 data provided by wargames and existing simulation platforms, according to DARPA’s program context description. Wargames simulate warfighter decision-making and response on the ground, but offer limited ability to analyze cause and effect data. Meanwhile, existing simulation software programs are able to demonstrate the effects and capabilities of equipment and pre-planned tactics, but leave little space for human flexibility on the battlefield.

The PROTEUS software is projected to be available to warfighters in the field between 2030 and 2040.

Future anti-access and area denial (A2AD) scenarios involving conflicts against peer- and near peer adversaries in coastal and littoral urban settings severely challenge existing MAGTF task organization and force package concepts. The high dimensionality of urban terrain – time, three dimensional physical space with complex geometry, including air and subsurface levels, and spectrum – makes maneuver difficult and standoff tactics ineffective, absorbs large numbers of combatants, and particularly in an A2AD setting, negates air superiority advantages traditionally enjoyed by US forces.

To succeed in the more complex peer and near-peer battlespace of the 21st century, new task organization and force package concepts are needed to enable Marines to rapidly identify fleeting opportunities in a fluid and ever-changing environment, adapt force packages to exploit them, and achieve disproportionate impact relative to unit size. This enhanced agility may be enabled by dynamically composing individual task-appropriate Marines, assets (platforms and subsystems), and tactics to provide a desired warfighting function (e.g., fires) to achieve tactical goals. “Agile expeditionary urban operations” are Marine operations in urban terrain (cities) that can rapidly adapt to changing circumstances and provide disproportionate effects through precise combined application of warfighting functions.

“The urban fight is about delivering precise effects and adapting faster than the adversary in an uncertain, increasingly complex environment,” said John Paschkewitz, DARPA program manager. “For U.S. forces to maintain a distinct advantage in urban coastal combat scenarios, we need agile, flexible task organizations able to create surprise and exploit advantages by combining effects across operational domains. Through PROTEUS, we aim to amplify the initiative and decision-making capabilities of NCOs and junior officers at the platoon and squad level as well as field-grade officers commanding expeditionary landing teams, for example, by giving them new tools to compose tailored force packages not just before the mission, but during the mission as it unfolds.”


Prototype Resilient Operations Testbed for Expeditionary Urban Operations (PROTEUS) program

The program, dubbed Prototype Resilient Operations Testbed for Expeditionary Urban Scenarios (PROTEUS), seeks to deliver a software platform for use on a tablet or other personal device that would enable dynamic and adaptive composition of battlefield elements—including dismounted forces, vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), manned aircraft, and other available assets—simultaneously across multiple command levels as the fight is evolving. The second focus area of the program is to develop an entirely new interactive virtual testbed, using novel mechanics built around multiscale decision making, to evaluate operational concepts spanning multiple domains, such as ground, sea, air, and electromagnetic spectrum.

The goal of the program is to enhance battle management, command and control (BMC2) capabilities to maintain a U.S. advantage in future urban combat, states DARPA. The vision for the battle management/command and control (BMC2) software is to enable agile precision warfighting, so tactical operators can quickly design, compose, and recompose force packages on the fly to surprise the enemy.

“We aim to develop a tool to enable Marines to adapt their systems and tactics faster than the adversary,” Paschkewitz said. “The tool would show all available air, ground, sea, and spectrum assets in an area and determine how they could best be combined—whether that means, for example, delivering combined arms fire support for a Marine in need or providing transportation for that Marine to escape.” In another example, a squad leader could use the tablet tool to coordinate combined reconnaissance support from several small UAVs organic to the unit, electronic warfare support from a long-endurance UAV like a Reaper in the vicinity, and combined arms fire support from a nearby attack helicopter and tank. As envisioned, the BMC2 tool would give the tactical operator real-time awareness of locally available assets and would share that view with higher command echelons, enabling the entire team to think “one step ahead.”

A second goal of PROTEUS is to create an interactive virtual testbed where new BMC2 tools and concepts can be integrated and tested at various levels of command, to demonstrate the agile composition of force packages.

“The idea for the interactive virtual testbed is to allow tactical and higher-echelon operators to explore and evaluate new tactics based on dynamic composition and then build ‘muscle memory’ by applying the most effective ones in an engaging virtual environment,” Paschkewitz said.

“We’re not trying to develop a massively multi-player online game like many popular commercial games that already exist, nor is PROTEUS looking to mimic or advance existing DoD Live-Virtual-Constructive (LVC) software. Instead, we want developers to come up with innovative, decision-focused, virtual worlds that correctly capture the complex and non-linear consequences of choices made at both the command and tactical levels by both friendly and opposing forces. The urban fight has enormous uncertainty and the dimensionality of the battlespace is huge, which requires human judgment and decision-making that you can’t automate away. We’re looking for concepts with ease of use and demonstrable utility simulations similar to existing interactive tactical decision games used by U.S. forces, yet with greatly increased battlespace scale, complexity and detail.”

The program seeks to:

  • Develop software for simultaneous and dynamic real-time task organization, force package (i.e. platforms & weapons) combination and configuration, and tactics planning suitable for implementation in devices available to Marines in the 2030-2040 timeframe;
  • Develop a purpose-built virtual test environment to exercise and demonstrate this capability with an appropriately detailed virtual representation of combined arms operations in a complex urban battlespace; and
  • Exercise both capabilities in a series of benchmarking tests involving a participant cohort for both friendly and opposing forces drawn from active duty Marines. These tests will demonstrate that the ability to dynamically compose small unit organization, capabilities and tactics enables superior performance in the battlespace quantified using metrics such as lethality/(area-cost), resilience, and cost imposition.



The PROTEUS program will consist of three technical areas

Technical Area 1 (TA1): Composable Operations Development Environment

Performers in TA1 will develop the test environment used to explore functional composition and its impact on tactics across levels of command. The environment should focus on revealing the consequences of choices made in the environment within the complex dynamics of the adversarial contest between humans. The events simulated in the test environment will depend on the actions of 150+ people in each force, in addition to a civilian population, over the course of an operation that might last for 45 days. The test environment is a key enabler for the program and TA1 performers will Utilize innovative game mechanics and software architecture concepts to enable detailed assessment and exploration of the dynamic composition approach to combined arms operations in urban terrain


Technical Area 2 (TA2): Functional Compiler

Performers in TA2 will develop an integrated dynamic composition capability to construct adaptive force packages, task organizations, and tactics (TTPs) “on the fly” to meet rapidly evolving mission needs. This capability will be embodied in a software tool that integrates capabilities that identify constraints, mix and match systems to provide desired functional outcomes, integrate systems with novel interoperability approaches, and provide adaptive planning to maximize resilience using mathematically principled approaches and algorithms. This integrated functional composition tool should allow Marine users to compose functions in time and space. TA2 performers should define both friendly and opposing force instantiations of the tool, and define initial tactics for new composed system concepts


Technical Area 3 (TA3): Systems for Functions

TA3 performers will define both Marine Corps and possible adversary systems and tactics to realize these functions at the unclassified level as described below. Performers in TA3 will provide models that define functional characteristics of systems being composed as well as tactics (TTP’s) associated with groupings of these systems. As noted above, for purposes of this solicitation, this “technical library” only includes systems supporting the warfighting functions of Command and Control (C2), fires and maneuver, and TA3 proposers should select only one function to address in their proposal.

While the USMC definition of fires includes both lethal and non-lethal fires, only lethal fires are of interest at this time. The technical library will provide relevant inputs to enable virtual realization of the systems in the TA1 test environment as well as provide composable elements for the TA2 functional compiler.

TA3 proposers should define a palette of “ways to realize functions today” and “ways to realize functions in 2030.” For the latter, these are restricted to systems that are currently under development and at TRL 3 or above. For adversary assets, notional technologies are acceptable with publically available understanding of TTPs


If successful, the software tools and concepts developed in the PROTEUS program will enable assessment and exploration of new approaches to combined arms operations involving coordination of effects in multiple domains.


Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF)

Expeditionary urban operations are a core responsibility of the Marine Corps, which employs an adaptable and scalable task organization, the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). Since World War II in many crisis’ the United States Marine Corps has deployed projection forces, with the ability to move ashore with sufficient sustainability for prolonged operations.


MAGTFs have long provided the United States with a broad spectrum of response options when U.S. and allied interests have been threatened and in non-combat situations which require instant response to crisis. Selective, timely and credible commitment of air-ground units have, on many occasions, helped bring stability to a region and sent signals worldwide that the United States is willing to defend its interests, and is able to do so with a significantly powerful force on extremely short notice.


The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is a term used by the United States Marine Corps to describe the principal organization for all missions across the range of military operations. MAGTFs are a balanced air-ground, combined arms task organization of Marine Corps forces under a single commander that is structured to accomplish a specific mission.


The MAGTF accomplishes all six warfighting functions – command and control (C2), fires, logistics, maneuver, intelligence and force protection – as a single, integrated unit. The MAGTF has unity of command, simplifying cross- and multi-domain operations, with task organization and force package assets corresponding to pre-defined mission sets (e.g., raid or non-combatant evacuation operation) enabling adaptability to variation in mission types.


The types of forces in the Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) are functionally grouped into four core elements: a command element, an aviation combat element, a ground combat element, and a combat service support element


The four core elements the Marine Air-Ground Task Force are:

The Command Element (CE), a headquarters unit that directs the other elements.  The MAGTF commander is provided with an integrated staff and requisite communications to enable him to exercise command and control of MAGTF operations. The establishment of a single command element over the ground, aviation, and combat service support elements provides the command, control, coordination, computer, intelligence, and interoperability capability essential for effective planning and execution of operations.

The Ground Combat Element (GCE), usually comprising infantry, supported by armor (tanks), and artillery, but may also include special units such as scouts or Force Reconnaissance, snipers and forward air controllers.

The Aviation Combat Element (ACE), which contributes the air power to the MAGTF. The ACE includes all aircraft (both fixed wing and helicopters), their pilots and maintenance personnel, and those units necessary for aviation command and control.

The Logistics Combat Element (LCE), contains all of the support units for the MAGTF: communications, combat engineers, motor transport, medical, supply units, and certain specialized groups such as air delivery and landing support teams


MAGTF Operations

MAGTF Operations are built upon a foundation of six special core competencies that define what Marines do and how they operate.

  1. The first core competency, expeditionary readiness, defines an institutional mindset that is ready to respond instantaneously to world-wide crises, 365 days a year. This requires a force that can transition from peacetime to combat operations at a moment’s notice, without critical reserve augmentation, and with certain success. Second, it demands a force ready to flourish under conditions of uncertainty. Expeditionary readiness is about being ready to adapt to whatever is “out there,” improvising and finding unconventional solutions to unconventional problems. As a result, it demands a primary focus on the human rather than technological dimension of battle. And third, it means being ever ready to defeat the “opponent after next” — requiring a relentless commitment to innovation and change.
  2. The next core competency is combined arms operations. As specifically demanded by Congress, the nation’s naval crisis response force must be capable of acting on short notice and without immediate support from Army and Air Force warfighting forces. In other words, such a force in readiness requires an organic, combined arms capability. For over half a century, MAGTFs have trained so that their ground combat, air combat, and combat service support capabilities are directed by a single commander. Other services practice combined arms operations — MAGTF operations embody them.
  3. Expeditionary operations are much more than military expeditions on foreign soil. Like expeditionary readiness, expeditionary operations require a special mindset — one that is constantly prepared for immediate deployment overseas into austere operating environments. As a result, expeditionary operations consider host nation support a luxury, and are designed to bring everything necessary to accomplish the mission — from individual equipment up to and including airfields and hospitals.
  4. The Marine Corps’ naval character is an indispensable attribute for a force in readiness, and forms the basis for its fourth core competency, sea-based operations. Sea-based operations provide for extraordinary strategic reach, and give the nation an enduring means influence and shape the evolving international environment. In addition, sea-based operations provide units with a large measure of inherent force protection. A highly ready, combined arms MAGTF, operating from a mobile, protected sea base, provides the NCA with unimpeded and politically unencumbered access to potential trouble spots around the world.
  5. The Marines are perhaps best known for their fifth core competency, forcible entry — from the sea. A key requirement for unilateral action is the ability to project power ashore in a theater without forward bases, and in the face of armed opposition. In the past, forcible entry from the sea was defined by amphibious assaults, focused on establishing lodgments on the beach and then building up combat power for subsequent operations. It is now defined as an uninterrupted movement of forces from ships located far over the horizon directly against decisive objectives.
  6. Although a force in readiness cannot afford to pause to call up its reserves in order to respond to an emerging crisis, MAGTF operations still demand a sixth core competency, reserve integration. Marine Reserves routinely practice carefully crafted reserve integration plans to augment or reinforce crisis response missions, and to add combat power for operations, especially at the high end of the conflict spectrum.


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US’s strategy to defeat ISIS by carrying cyber war and dropping cyber bombs

US had devised a new strategy to defeat ISIS, and also started cyber warfare campaign against ISIS. US is first in world to have publically declare that it is carrying cyber war against ISIS that involves dropping “cyber bombs”-the term coined by Ash carter- to disrupt its communications and other infrastructure. The cyber warfare campaign is being carried out by military’s seven-year-old U.S. Cyber Command through full range of cyber warfare methods.

A new unit headed by Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon was tasked with developing digital weapons — fashioned from malware and other cyber-tools — that can intensify efforts to damage and destroy the Islamic State’s networks, computers and cellphones. This was also a test of operational effectiveness of its cyber command to conduct offensive mission against ISIS that was formed to thwart traditional foes like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The terror groups like ISIS use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and internet forums to spread their messages, recruit members and gather intelligence.

While U.S. Cyber Command claimed success in carrying out what was called Operation Glowing Symphony, under which Cyber Command obtained the passwords to a number of Islamic State administrator accounts and then used them to access the accounts, change the passwords and delete content such as battlefield video. It also shut the group’s propaganda specialists out of their accounts, former officials said.

However, Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed frustration that the United States was losing the cyberwar against the militants. He pushed the Cyber Command to be more aggressive. In response, the Pentagon undertook an effort to incorporate cyber technology into its daily military fight, including new ways to disrupt the enemy’s communications, recruiting, fundraising and propaganda.

The military is  now looking for new ways to bring in more civilians with high-tech skills who can help against IS and prepare for the new range of technological threats the nation will face, as reported by AP. Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command said that means getting Guard and Reserve members with technical expertise in digital forensics, math crypto-analysis and writing computer code. According to Nakasone they are bringing new expertise for identifying enemy networks, pinpointing system administrators or developers, and potentially monitoring how IS’ online traffic moves.

The Army has been steadily building cyber mission teams, as part of a broader Defense Department undertaking. Of the 41 Army teams, just over half come from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

United States opened a new line of combat against the Islamic State, directing the military’s eight-year-old Cyber Command for the first time to mount computer-network attacks that are now being used alongside more traditional weapons. In 2009, US established, USCYBERCOM for more effective and coordinated efforts for conducting cyberspace operations. Cyber Command, which was focused largely on Russia, China, Iran and North Korea — where cyberattacks on the United States most frequently originate — has now been given responsibility for operations against what has become the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world.

To know more about USAF cyber platforms :http://idstch.com/home5/international-defence-security-and-technology/cyber/usaf-offensive-cyberspace-operations-oco-program-developing-cyber-mission-platforms-cyber-weapons-platform-command-control-mission-system/

“The cyberwar seal has been broken in public”, said Peter W Singer of the New America Foundation. In addition to overloading or defacing Isis’s web presence, known as a denial of service attack, and aiming to prevent the uploading or distribution of propaganda, particularly on social media, it is likely that the US Cyber Command is “mapping the people behind networks, their connections and physical locations and then feeding that into targeting on the kinetic side – injecting false info to create uncertainty”, Singer said.

However, a report by The Washington Post said that militant group’s “sophisticated” use of technology is making it difficult for the Pentagon to disrupt the group’s operations and spread of propaganda with specially-crafted malware designed to target the group’s computers, mobile devices, and infrastructure. “Cybercom has not been as effective as the department would expect them to be, and they’re not as effective as they need to be,” said a senior defense official who, like other officials, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations. “They need to deliver results.”

The situation is difficult as the ISIS is having decentralized architecture which is constantly moving instead of government or nation-state, which relies on fixed and traditional infrastructure. This complicates the targeting as cybercom has to target individuals with malware or long range jamming which may have an adverse effect on civilians. Terrorist’s use of encryption is also hampering operations.

“The more dependent you are on technology, the more you are a target for cyberattack. And ISIS is less dependent,” said James Lewis, a cyber-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as reported by The Washington Post.


Disrupting ISIS’s Command and Control and communications

“Our cyberoperations are disrupting their command-and-control and communications,” Mr. Obama said this month, emerging from a meeting at the C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., on countering the Islamic State.

While officials declined to discuss the details of their operations, interviews with more than a half-dozen senior and midlevel officials indicate that the effort has begun with a series of “implants” in the militants’ networks to learn the online habits of commanders. Now, the plan is to imitate them or to alter their messages, with the aim of redirecting militants to areas more vulnerable to attack by American drones or local ground forces.

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had said the cyber effort was focused primarily on ISIS terrorists in Syria and that the campaign’s goal was to “overload their network so that they can’t function” and “interrupt their ability to command and control forces there, control the population and the economy.”


“US’s deterrence strategy, which by definition is based on the threat of consequences, is unlikely to succeed in the fight against ISIS or similarly minded groups. Death is a goal for many jihadists, and one to be celebrated.” With few deterrent options, the United States and its partners should support efforts aimed at dissuading would-be fighters before they make the decision to join ISIS, says Thomas M. Sanderson


Cyber Warfare also to counter ISIS propaganda and collect intelligence

The goal of the new campaign is to disrupt the ability of the Islamic State to spread its message, attract new adherents, circulate orders from commanders and carry out day-to-day functions, like paying its fighters. A benefit of the administration’s exceedingly rare public discussion of the campaign, officials said, is to rattle the Islamic State’s commanders, who have begun to realize that sophisticated hacking efforts are manipulating their data. Potential recruits may also be deterred if they come to worry about the security of their communications with the militant group.

The U.S. efforts to monitor ISIS’s use of social media and counter its online propaganda and recruitment efforts have been tentative, hesitant and amateurish. Responsibility for counter-messaging has shifted between various organizations, but these agencies do not seem to share lessons learned or even operate using a cohesive strategy, write ANDREW BYERS AND TARA MOONEY in The HILL.  They suggest bringing together small teams of counterterrorist experts; regional experts who know the languages, dialects, actors and groups involved; and social media-savvy technical experts is a cheap and cost-effective approach.

Terrorism expert Sidney Jones said the country needed a cyber defense agency in order to analyze cyberspace traffic on the Internet, on social media and also on messenger services.



Goals and objectives

Mr Carter has said that by disrupting ISIS’ communications, these cyberattacks risked hindering US intelligence collection. But he said that such “trade-offs” did not detract from the need to disrupt ISIS’ networks.

Carter and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen Joseph Dunford, declined to speak about the US cyber campaign in detail, but said it contributed the broader objectives of isolating the Isis capital of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.


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Nigerian Military’s offensive using latest technology to push Boko Haram back out of most territory, UN asks to address ‘Roots of conflict’

The Nigerian army says it lost three soldiers after successfully clearing 13 Boko Haram hideouts in Sambisa Forest in one week. Colonel Kingsley Samuel, Deputy Director, Public Relations, 7 Division of the Army, disclosed this in a statement in Maiduguri, yesterday.  He added that the troops successfully cleared the terrorists’ hideouts at Talala, Ajigin, Mangzum, Abagajiri, Kafa, Dusula, Buk, Malumti and Abulam among others.

In early 2015 the group controlled an area around the size of Belgium, but it has since been pushed out of most of that territory by Nigeria’s army and troops from neighbouring countries. Nigerian troops have freed hundreds of hostages held by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in it’s  counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria’s northeast. Soldiers also destroyed a terrorist training camp, warehouse, and factory in Tilem, a northeast village, army Public Relations Director Sani Usman said.

Nigeria’s army has captured Boko Haram’s last enclave in the vast Sambisa forest that was the Islamist group’s stronghold, the country’s president has announced. Nigeria’s Sambisa forest, became the Boko Haram hideout where kidnapped school girls are believed to be held. They have also constructed super bunkers there.  Members of Boko Haram are knowledgeable about the enormous endowment of the Sambisa Forest and have capitalized on the fact that even if military tanks must be moved into the place to dislodge them, it must be done with knowledge and tactics.

THE Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, said that the Nigerian Military would utilize space technology in security the country’s territorial interest. Olonisakin said the integration of space capabilities into the various military functions would give the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies an array of technological capabilities with multitude of effects to gain battle ground superiority against adversaries.

Gruesome methods and weapons

Boko Haram launched an insurgency in 2009 to carve out an Islamic state in north-east Nigeria. Boko Haram has bombed schools, churches and mosques; kidnapped women and children; and assassinated politicians and religious leaders alike. Religious freedom advocates say Boko Haram is working to mirror efforts by ISIS in Syria and Iraq to execute Christians and others who fail to accept their extremist ideology. The group’s violence has killed more than 30,000 in north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries since 2011 and displaced 2.1m.

Boko Haram is strapping bombs to birds as it continues to develop more deadly weapons in its bloody insurgency in Africa. The commander of a coalition battling the Isis-affiliated militants revealed the discovery at a meeting with American diplomats and security officials. A Syrian officer involved in the operation to re-take the group’s former stronghold of Palmyra last month described how jihadists had “booby-trapped everything”, including animals and trees.

Isis is known to be unusually liberal with its use of explosives, which it manufactures using cheap chemicals and equipment readily available on the civilian market. Boko Haram has been using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including car bombs, and suicide bombers to kill civilians at markets, transport hubs, schools and other public institutions.

Some attacks were carried out by just two or three gunmen on a motorcycle, some by hundreds of fighters supported by tanks and anti-aircraft weapons mounted on flat-bed trucks. Schools, churches, mosques and other public buildings have been attacked and destroyed. Sophisticated weapons like T-55 armored tank and a highly sophisticate Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) and thousands of AK 47 rifles are possessed by them.

Women as shields and suicide bombers

BOKO HARAM has used more female suicide-bombers than any other terrorist group in history. Of the 434 bombers the group deployed between April 2011 and June 2017, 244 have been definitely identified as female.

At least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014 and many have been forced into sexual slavery and trained to fight. The abducted women and girls are indoctrinated with their version of Islam, they undergo three-week training on shooting guns, using bombs and attacking villages, after which they are sent to operations, the others who refuse are killed and buried in mass graves.

Boko Haram used some of the women as armed human shields, a first line of defense who opened fire as the troops approached, according to an intelligence officer and a soldier who were in Sambisa during the rescue.




Nigerian Military Offensive with  Technology

Nigerian Air Force  have been using Unarmed Combat Aerial Vehicle (UAV)  to destroy a Boko Haram logisitics base in Sambisa forest. The armed CH-3 UAV was sold to Nigeria by China, to help in its campaign against Boko Haram.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari won elections in March 2015 partly on a promise to crush the militant Islamist group Boko Haram – and gave his military chiefs until the end of the year to beat the insurgents. Technically he achieved that goal with a series of military defeats that pushed the militant group out of the northeastern towns and villages it had captured in late 2014 and back into the barely inhabited forest lands that are its stronghold.

The Nigerian Army in JUly 2017  inducted locally fabricated Infantry Patrol Vehicles (IPV) that would enhance troops operations across the country. The Chief of Army of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai explained that the vehicles were locally designed and fabricated by personnel of the Nigerian Army after extension research.

As part of renewed strategy to sustain the clearing of the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists, the Nigerian Army has inducted a combat motorbike battalion at the Headquarters of 25 Task Force Brigade, Damboa, Borno State. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai while inducting the unit stated that “the essence of the battalion is to open and secure motorways from various towns to and fro Maiduguri and other parts of Yobe State.

Inducting the combat motorbike unit, the Chief of Army Staff stated that the battalion will serve as a force multiplier in the clearance operations of remnants of Boko Haram terrorists. He stated further that with the induction of the unit, troop’s presence will be available along the roads thus keeping the roads open and safe.

Nigerian military to explore space technology in security

The Chief of Defence Staff, who noted that Nigeria was being faced with many internal and external security challenges including cross border terrorism, ethnic crisis, armed banditory, crude oil theft, kidnapping and other criminal activities, said the commissioning of the Defence Space Administration Office was “another testimony to our determination to provide added capability to the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the performance of its constitutional roles.”

“The integration of space capabilities into the various military functions would give the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies an array of technological capabilities with multitude of effects on speed, accuracy, recession of information collection, strategic planning, decision making and integration of technology to gain battle ground superiority across the different forces and platforms, “he insisted. Other identified benefits of the space technology, according to him, were in the areas of signal intelligence, navigational capabilities, battle field situation nay awareness, surveillance and communication capabilities.



Nigerian Military

President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed corruption for the deaths of thousands in the seven-year Islamic uprising that has killed more than 20,000.Last year, Boko Haram claimed the morbid title of deadliest terror group for its killings in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. The extremist group based in northern Nigeria killed 6,644 people in 2014, an increase of more than 300% from the previous year, according to the latest tally from the Global Terrorism Index. Boko Haram killed more people than ISIS, which it reportedly pledged allegiance to last year, the tally says.

Nigeria’s military says some officers are selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, indicating the corruption bedeviling the country’s fight against the Islamic extremists continues despite government efforts to halt graft.

The Nigerian military is one of the largest and well-funded in Africa, Nigeria’s defence budget was $5.8 billion in 2014, and its military includes conventional weapons as well as fleets of jets, drones and helicopters.

Although the Nigerian soldiers do win some fights, they are regularly forced to turn tail and run for their lives by the sheer volume of gunfire from Boko Haram fighters. “There’s so many issues,” said Alkasim Abdulkadir, a Nigerian freelance journalist and security analyst, citing the lack of a unified command structure, poor equipment, low morale and allegations of corruption among commanders as key reasons behind the military’s failures.

Nigeria has consistently misread the nature of the threat from Boko Haram at both the military and political levels. The army is struggling to prosecute a counterinsurgency campaign, which it was never designed or trained to fight, according to Chris Ngwodo, Nigerian writer and political analyst, “It just has found itself out of its depth when it comes to dealing with an irregular fighting force such as Boko Haram.”

Haram has anti-aircraft guns, which he says are accurate up to three-quarters of a mile, whereas the Nigerian military has AK47 small machine guns, accurate, up to a few hundred meters, complain soldiers. Often the Nigerian soldiers are given only 60 bullets each, so they quickly run out. Boko Haram, he says, has large supplies of ammunition and more fighters. The troop morale is also very low. Nigeria is also woefully short of training which has impacted their combat effectiveness.

Apart from arms and ammunition shortages, there are also deep divisions within the military, with some troops and commanders being sympathetic and refuse to fight insurgents. It has emerged that despite the presence of over 1,000 well-armed Nigerian troops in Mubi and its environs in Adamawa State, it took just a handful of 30 Boko Haram insurgents to capture the commercial city in October 2013 without firing a shot.

“For the past 14 years, the Nigerian security has been underfunded. For the same past 14 years, they have been shortage of manpower and without weaponry


Outside Support from America and European countries

America, Britain and other European nations are among those supporting military intervention against Boko Haram.

The Pentagon notified US Congress  in Aug. 17  of the sale of $593 million worth of military equipment to Nigeria. The equipment consists of 12 Super Tucano A-29 surveillance and attack planes, among other weapons. The drones are conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. Information from drone missions will be shared with other partners in the region, such as Nigeria, Chad and Mali in order to strengthen security across the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region.The United States donated 24 armored vehicles to Nigeria in January in a sign of greater trust between the two administrations.

As part of the annual U.S.-sponsored “Flintlock” counter-terrorism exercises  the United States introduced technology allowing African partners to communicate between cellphones, radios and computers. The RIOS system would allow soldiers in the field to transmit photos from a remote location in the Sahel immediately to a central command room and can also precisely pin-point the coordinates of personnel, a U.S. military official said. U.S. military will also be introducing a “cloud-based” technology to allow African allies to quickly share intelligence across borders, such as mapping information on the location of potential targets, Linder said.

U.S. officials blame the Nigerian military for being brutal and corrupt and ineffective. “Heavy weaponry will only make the situation worse if it enables the Nigerian military to kill more innocent civilians, thus leading their friends and relatives to flock to Boko Haram for protection and revenge,” US officials say. “As the terrorists increase their sophistication and their desperation, we are aware that we are operating in our country. We must be very careful with the deployment of weapons, we must be very careful with the level of collateral damage that we can impose on the country, but as they get more desperate we also adjust the mission and maybe that is what is coming this far,” Major General Chris Olukolade, Nigerian Director of Defence Information told reporters.

Germany has provided more than 100 military vehicles to Cameroon, The Cubic Lane reported. Russian Ambassador to Cameroon Nikolay Ratsiborinskiy was quoted by The Cubic Lane as saying on national radio that the country will deliver ‘weapons and [the] latest generation of the most sophisticated systems’. The equipment will include ‘artillery guns, air protection, anti-aircraft missiles and cannons, armoured trucks and other equipment and armaments’, Ratsiborinskiy added.




Address the Roots says UN

‘Roots of conflict’ must be addressed to defeat Boko Haram, says top UN rights official. “Profound inequalities, corruption, and resulting marginalization, naturally generate discontent. And the more marginalized and desperate the people, the more likely they are to turn to radical and violent movements,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Vanquishing this threat to peace will require sustained attention that extends beyond the use of military force. Strengthening the rule of law, repealing discriminatory legislation, and implementing inclusive and non-discriminatory policies must be part of the response to the violations committed by Boko Haram.”

Buhari has sketched out an ambitious plan to do just that, with proposals to invest in the historically neglected northeast in order to bolster education and employment opportunities, which would go a long way towards denying support for Boko Haram. But those investments require money that Nigeria no longer has. Nearly 70 percent of government revenue comes from oil, which has plummeted in price over the past year. The country is currently in talks with the World Bank and the African Development Bank over loans of up to $3.5 billion to help with a forecasted $11 billion budget shortfall.


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