The National Center for Border Security and Immigration
A DHS Center of Excellence Newsletter - December 2012

BORDERS Conducts Impostership Workshop in EU

Tucson, AZ -- BORDERS
BORDERS researchers traveled to the KMar Border Security Training Centre in Apeldoorn, Netherlands over the summer to run the third in a series of border security workshops sponsored by FRONTEX. FRONTEX is the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union.

The focus of this year's workshop was detecting impostership, a high priority issue for many EU nations, as well as the United States. Attendees included BORDERS researchers and graduate students, FRONTEX R&D officers, and border guards from France, UK, Netherlands, Malta, Germany and Finland, as well as nine other EU countries.

The workshop featured a simulation to test the ability of border guards and the AVATAR kiosk to identify imposters. The experiment was patterned after a prevalent screening problem in Europe: hooligans with a history of violent behavior, attempting to gain entry to soccer matches to which they have been banned. Cadets from the KMar Border Security Training Centre played the role of soccer fans. Prior to "game day", they received information about their favorite team, rival team, and level of fandom. Some cadets were designated as "hooligans." and they all received customized tickets based on his or her preferences.

On "game day," the cadets arrived with their tickets and had to pass through several layers of screening to gain entry to the game, including: automated screening by the AVATAR, primary screening by an EU border guard, and secondary screening by additional EU border guards. If identified as being suspicious, cadets were denied access to the game. Human officers were able to identify about 25 percent of the imposters; the AVATAR was able to identify 70-75 percent.

BORDERS researchers were able to gain insight into the accuracy of both human and automated screening, as well as more nuanced information on the methods and technologies that yield the most insightful information that can be used to identify imposters. Ultimately, findings from this experiment can be used to validate relevant screening technologies and how they may provide decision support to border guards.

Based on the positive response from the first three workshops, researchers are already identifying topics of interest to investigate in a follow-up workshop during the summer of 2013.

In This Issue

  • BORDERS and the EU

  • Cross-Border Disease Spread

  • Canadian Border Tour

  • TSA Associate Program

  • About Us

  • Contact Information


NCBSI's Cross-Border Disease Spread Tool Showcased at FEMA Region 1 Exercise

El Paso, TX -- NCBSI
Modeling real-world scenarios is a challenge for traditional social science researchers, as it is often hard to capture the intricacies and dynamisms of real-world situations without making simplistic assumptions. However, it is real-world challenges that concern our government organizations and agencies charged with securing our national borders. Among these concerns is what actions should be taken in the event of a serious pandemic in a bordering region, one that could threaten the security and health of our citizens. Foreseeing the events that could unfold, planning appropriately for contingencies, and balancing resources to best protect our borders, all the while containing the threat of a virulent outbreak, are all tasks best carefully studied and planned well ahead of the actual crisis, at least to the greatest extent possible.

The NCBSI team, led by Drs. Eunice Santos, Eugene Santos and John Korah, has been applying their expertise to help understand the complex dynamics of a population of people threatened by a pandemic and residing close enough to a national border that they might perceive that the surest path to safety is through flight, perhaps across that border. The team has vigorously attacked this challenge through the use of a novel intent-driven modeling paradigm using a probabilistic representation called Bayesian Knowledge Bases (BKBs). The BKBs provide a probabilistic engine for inferring actors' likely behaviors based on observed beliefs, goals, and actions. Using such a tool, planners could anticipate likely reactions to events unfolding, both in their region and nationally, and allocate resources efficiently to meet the goals of their organization.

Click on image to view full size

This analyst tool was recently demonstrated to stakeholders and other relevant audiences during the Federal Emergency Response Agency (FEMA) Region 1 Technology Transition Workshop and Exercise at the Northeastern University Curry Center in Boston on 27 September of this year. The team showcased their research to members of federal, state and local first responder organizations, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FBI, and TSA, by demonstrating their Cross Border Disaster Management Tool, which models the cross-border behavior of Mexican nationals as they react to pandemic events surrounding the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in Mexico. The novelty of the demonstrated work was found in representing both coarse-grained (events at the national level) and fine-grained (events at two separate border locations) information. This was viewed as especially useful for analysts in disaster management and first responder organizations who need to be able to understand both macro-level behavior, and changes in behavior in their immediate vicinity, to help them with planning, prevention, and mitigation.

The team demonstrated the capabilities of their framework in uncovering previously hidden connections and explanations by comparing independent models of two border locations with a fused model. The local models incorporated events unique to the immediate locale, as well as national events common to both locales. For example, actors within the model in a particular region would react both to national and international news events such as those found in major newspapers, as well as to events occurring in their immediate vicinity, such as heightened border security or local outbreaks. The fused model represented the interaction of the two locale's events and populations. The fusion revealed emergent behaviors not expected or predicted otherwise. The team also demonstrated a new graphical interface featuring a map component, which allowed stakeholders and other interested groups to view firsthand the results of changing model parameters. Moreover, the simplified interface enhances the availability and utility of the analysis tool to likely future end-users, such as FEMA personnel.

BORDERS Executive Director Tours North American Border

Tucson, AZ -- BORDERS
In late September, BORDERS Executive Director, Elyse Golob, headed north for a three day tour of the US-Canada border. The purpose of this Consulate General of Canada sponsored trip was to demonstrate Canadian efforts to promote, build and grow the North American economy. Individuals from across the United States with an interest in border issues were among the participants on the tour.

Since BORDERS' research addresses issues at both the southern and northern U.S. border, this trip offered a unique opportunity to meet with Canadian policymakers about current challenges and new developments.

The tour began at the Douglas Port of Entry in Surrey, British Columbia and concluded at the Centerm Container Terminal & CP Rail in Vancouver, BC. Throughout the trip, participants met with officials from the Canadian Border Service Agency, Transport CANADA, and the Canadian Coast Guard who demonstrated the advancements in border security and trade that Canada has made over recent years.

One of these advancements was found on Prince Rupert Island, where tour participants had an opportunity to see the Port Authorities state-of-the-art-container terminal in action. The Fairview Container Terminal in the only ship-to-rail container terminal in North America. With the ability to expand to four times its current size, the facility will continue to meet demands for years to come.

One of the most interesting aspects of the trip for BORDERS says Dr. Golob, was "learning about the new innovations in one-stop inspections between the US and Canada that are being implemented as a result of Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness." These bilateral policies will expedite the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between the two countries. Overall, the trip demonstrated the positive effects technology and policy can have on security and the economy at the border.

Launch of the TSA Associates Program

El Paso, Texas - NCBSI
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is providing its Transportation Security Officer (TSO) workforce at airports throughout the nation the opportunity to work toward a TSA awarded Homeland Security Certificate and up to nine college credits. NCBSI worked with TSA to develop the curriculum for the continuing education program. NCBSI is happy to announce that this program was launched at the El Paso International Airport through a collaborative effort with Professional, and Public Programs (P3) office located at the University of Texas at El Paso. Recently the advertisement and recruitment effort for the first scheduled cohort to begin in January 2013 began.

This education program will be delivered at or near the actual airport location. Each course will be taught over a fifteen week semester. Each scheduled course will be delivered at the TSA designated location two times per week. Instruction for the courses will be provided in the field of homeland security and curriculum/training development. Participants will receive three credit hours for completion of each course. TSO's interested in the TSA Associates Program will need to enter the University as a non-degree seeking student. Upon completion of up to nine college credits, TSO's wishing to continue on with academic courses or a four year degree in homeland security or other related disciplines must apply and transition into degree seeking status. Admission for degree seeking status would require that they re-apply to the University. Should enrollment and completion rates prove successful among TSO's at the El Paso International Airport, more diverse homeland security related courses may be added to the program.

The TSA Associates Program will be comprised of three university courses in Criminal Justice and Intelligence and National Security Studies. These courses and their descriptions include:
  • CRIJ 3304 - Fundamentals in Homeland Security: Is an overview of current concepts that will help students understand Homeland Security issues at the strategic level. This course will also examine the conceptual framework of other courses that will be covered in the Homeland Security Concentration.

  • CRIJ 3305 - Homeland Security and Border Protection: Is an overview of the steps taken by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration to increase security across our borders and ports of entry. These actions and initiatives include a broad range of strategies and defenses that CBP deploys in its anti-terror mission. CBP's protective measures include intensified activities in the areas of passenger processing, cargo targeting and inspection, non-intrusive technology inspections, as well as a number of initiatives to increase security along the U.S. Mexico border.

  • INSS 4350 - Selected Problems in Intel-Intelligence Analysis and Security Management: This course will address particularized intelligence and national security issues in depth. This examines intelligence analysis and its indispensable relationship to the security management of terrorist attacks, man-made disasters and natural disasters. It also explores vulnerabilities of our national defense and private sectors, as well as the threats posed to these institutions by terrorists, man-made disasters, and natural disasters. Students will discuss substantive issues regarding intelligence support of homeland security measures implemented by the U.S. and explore how the intelligence community operates.


The National Center for Border Security and Immigration, co-led by the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of Texas at El Paso, is developing technologies, tools and advanced methods to balance immigration and trade with effective border security, as well as assess threats and vulnerabilities, improve surveillance and screening, analyze immigration trends, and enhance policy and law enforcement efforts.

Questions and Comments

For inquiries regarding the Center, please contact: Elyse Golob, Executive Director, BORDERS or Eunice Santos, Director, NCBSI:

- Elyse Golob, University of Arizona, Executive, Director,
- Eunice Santos, University of Texas at El Paso, Director,

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Copyright 2012 TheNational Center for Border Security and Immigration. All rights reserved.