RealNews

Universities cash in with terror studies

9-11 gives academics a mission. Production is gearing up quickly on one of America’s secret weapons in the war on terror: university research. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks gave an urgent new mission to numerous projects that were scientifically interesting but hard to apply in the practical world. Face recognition software now has terrorists to identify. Agile new robots can look for bombs. And devices to identify disease pathogens can screen the nation’s food and water supplies. “When I started working on this 10 years ago, the use of biometrics for civilian applications was not popular,” said Anil Jaid, a Michigan State University engineer who works on image processing and pattern recognition software. His face recognition software is now being used at border crossings and embassies around the world. “It became the technology for catching terrorists after 9-11,” he said. All the nation’s research universities, in fact, are trying to repackage existing research into counterterrorism-related projects. Michigan’s Big Three universities — MSU, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University — even have begun to explore the establishment of a joint antiterror research institute. Full Story

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