Crime and terrorism are facts of modern life and the screening of people and their belongings for concealed weapons and explosives is an unfortunate but important necessity. The same applies to screening for items such as illicit drugs and currency at borders.
An extremely wide range of techniques from across physics, chemistry and biology are used to detect the signatures of contraband items. For example, detection systems have been developed using techniques across the electromagnetic spectrum, from DC to gamma rays, including millimetre-wave imaging, infra-red laser spectroscopy and X-ray computed tomography. The security community relies on innovation to stay one step ahead as threats evolve and terrorists seek new ways of defeating current systems.
Mathematical techniques are increasingly important in the development of algorithms to process sensor data, the design of overall security systems and in test and evaluation to ensure the effectiveness of these systems. Examples include image reconstruction and other inverse problems, machine learning, and statistical techniques for fusing information from multiple sensors. Cross-fertilisation between disparate fields has been an excellent source of applicable techniques.
Dr Mike Kemp from Iconal Technology, a specialist security consultancy and contract research company based in Cambridge, will give an overview of the field and discuss some of the challenges that Iconal, its partners and others are seeking to address.