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Homeland Security

Deception Detection

Identifying Hostile Intent

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(May 2007) With 400 million people entering the country every year, authorities are always on the lookout for individuals who may harbor hostile intent toward the United States and its citizens. But while measures such as biometrics—including fingerprints, iris, and facial scans—are in place to detect known terrorists, how do we detect those without a past? What about those with no known ties to terrorist organizations? Or those who do not appear in any government database?

Now, with a program called Project Hostile Intent, the Human Factors Division of the DHS S&T Directorate aims to answer these questions. Through Directorate-sponsored research, capabilities are being sought to identify deception and hostile intent in real time, on the spot, using non-invasive sensors. The goal is a prototype technology that can equal or exceed the abilities of today’s screening methods—without ever impeding the flow of travelers.

Project Hostile Intent comprises two components. First, hostile intent and deception models are needed, focusing on behavioral and speech cues. These cues are determined from experiments derived from operationally based scenarios that reflect the screening and interviewing objectives of DHS. Second, an automated suite of non-invasive sensors and algorithms is needed. Integrated, these sensors automatically detect and track the input cues to the models.

“The early test results have us cautiously optimistic,” said Larry Willis, the program manager for the project. “This technology has the potential to revolutionize the screening and interviewing process supporting access control for borders and critical infrastructure.”

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Last Published Date: December 26, 2012
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