Welcome to Booster!
Volume 14  March  2014
Message from the Director
While many researchers and companies are focusing on Big Data Analytics to harness the potential power in readily available massive, evolving data, many of these big data solutions don’t effectively factor the human decision maker into their proposed solution. VACCINE’s work focuses on empowering the decision maker through interactive visual analytic environments where visual cognition, guided discovery, and the non-digital human expertise and experience can be combined with state-of-the-art analytical techniques. Many of the Center’s projects involve developing new spatial and temporal visual decision making environments. These environments combine novel predictive analytical techniques guided by user-driven exploration and inquiry, as well as explanatory visualizations that enable casual experts (non-statisticians) to understand and trust advanced analytics by tailoring the displays to more effective and easily understood visual representations presented at intuitive temporal and spatial scales.  
An example of one of VACCINE’s projects is VASA (Visual Analytics for Simulation-based Action). The VASA project has been focused on developing decision making environments of “systems of systems” with complex and fragile interrelationships, such as the national critical infrastructure. This project is being developed in collaboration between VACCINE and its partners at the University of Minnesota, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the University of Texas. VASA enables the analyst to visually integrate, explore, and compare the inter-related and cascading effects of systems of systems components and potential final alternative outcomes.  The key factor of this approach is that VACCINE is empowering the user to be more effective by harnessing the power of advanced simulation techniques to provide more problem and outcome-specific, relevant information to the user so they can better utilize their expertise and experience to take effective action.
DHS Visits Morgan State University
One of VACCINE’s MSI partner institutions, Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted DHS’s Office of University Programs’ Joe Kielman and Emily Saulsgiver for a site visit in early March. VACCINE’s Engagement and Transition Manager, Heather Connell, also attended the visit. Morgan State’s Tim Akers and Asamoah Nkwanta organized a day of project presentations featuring their university’s work in the areas of visualization algorithms by Ahlam and Sam Tannouri, risk analysis by Xiao-Xiong, and counterterrorism by Jonathan Farley. Kofi Nyarko, James Hunter, Monique Head, and Kevin Peters gave VAST (Visual Analytics for Science and Technology) faculty presentations. Student presentations were given by Fitzroy Nembhard, Timothy Brown, and Candice Jean Louis on various active, ongoing projects that relate to homeland security issues. Guests were also given a tour of the Morgan VAST Laboratory. 
Morgan State University Develops Law Enforcement App to Assist Students
The research of Tim Akers of Morgan State University has expanded into smartphone app development where he and his interdisciplinary research team of faculty and students with expertise in engineering, computer science, biology, and education have created iLEAPS (Law Enforcement APP Assistance Program for Students). The system is designed to be an early warning tool to thwart campus crime and violence and is helpful to students, police dispatch, and police on patrol. The app allows users to report a crime or suspicious activity real-time from their phone when and where they see it happen. When the police receives the live report, it automatically records the gps location so that help can be dispatched immediately to the corresponding location. Their studies had found a delay in response time when students would call 911 because the report would be relayed back to campus police to handle. Their study also found that most students did not know the phone number to contact campus police directly in the event of an emergency. Therefore, the iLEAPS  app provides a way for students to instantly report a crime or emergency situation directly to campus police, thereby reducing response time to the scene. Students on the project have also made a video to promote the app to the student population at Morgan State University and to encourage them that if they “see something, say something.” The app has gone through several rounds of tests at Morgan State, and additional testing is planned. Future initiatives involve making the app available for free to Morgan State students and possibly also exploring a commercial route by offering the app for a fee to individuals in the surrounding community.
-IEEE Joint Intelligence and Security Informatics Conference is September 24th-26th, 2014, The Hague, the Netherlands. Call for papers: submission deadline June 1, 2014. http://www/eisic.org.
-VACCINE Featured at Big Data Workshop The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of University Programs sponsored a workshop in March in Arlington, Virginia entitled “Developing Solutions for Better Practices in Data Sharing.” VACCINE Director David Ebert and Engagement and Transition Manager Heather Connell both attended the workshop. Ebert presented a case study of VACCINE’s COAST project to highlight what successes and “lessons learned” the Center has had in obtaining data from DHS in the past.
-VACCINE partner institutions  ASU and FIU had virtual program reviews by DHS in March.
-VACCINE will be kicking off its newly reorganized Advisory Board in April. Watch for future announcements regarding a list of our current board members.
-Demand for VACCINE’s VALET (Visual Analytics Law Enforcement Toolkit) continues to grow. VACCINE received two inquiries from new potential end users wanting to explore the system: Verveko (company that wants to assist the Ugandan Police in Africa) and the Evansville Police Department in Indiana. Additionally, two more companies have expressed interest in licensing the VALET technology: Primoris and Ag TechInventures.
-David Ebert and Ed Delp met with members of the FBI in March to explore the usefulness of VACCINE’s gang graffiti automatic recognition and interpretation tool, GARI, for their operations.
-VACCINE hosted a visitor from John Deere in March to explore the center’s capabilities in the area of visual analytics. Discussions will advance during a follow up visit being held mid-April.
-VACCINE will be hosting an Evaluation Workshop at the University of California, San Diego on May 20th and 21st, 2014. Watch for additional details regarding the workshop, including registration information, in upcoming announcements.
-VACCINE has a position opening for an Education Program Manager. This position will oversee and coordinate the educational mission of the VACCINE center, facilitate education work plans, implement strategic goals, lead and coordinate multi-institution research activities, and coordinate the center’s Minority Serving Institution programs. If interested, please visit http://www.purdue.edu/hr/careers/ to apply.
-VACCINE will be hosting a faculty workshop at Morgan State University in June 2014. Watch next month’s newsletter for the confirmed dates and registration details.

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