"The most challenging problems AI may help us solve--from fighting terrorists to serving vulnerable populations--will involve government," according to "The Future Has Begun," a report on the impact of AI on government by the Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for the Business of Government. "More immediately, though not less consequentially, AI will change the way public servants do their jobs." A decade-long collaboration between the University of Southern California and Los Angeles International Airport produced an AI-enabled system aimed at helping law-enforcement units deploy their limited staff more effectively. After analyzing potential targets, the system recommends randomized police patrol routes and schedules so terrorists can't anticipate where and when they will run into security checkpoints. The system has since been used by the U.S. Coast Guard to randomize boat patrol routes in major ports and by the Transportation Security Administration to assign air marshals to flights.
Fei Fang has saved lives. At MIT Technology Review's EmTech conference on Wednesday, Fang outlined recent work across academia that applies AI to protect critical national infrastructure, reduce homelessness, and even prevent suicides. Fang explained how a system she developed in 2013, while doing her PhD at the University of Southern California, is used every day to protect 60,000 passengers on the Staten Island Ferry in New York City. There are more ferries traveling between Staten Island and Manhattan than US Coast Guard patrol boats in the same territory. Previously, one patrol boat would follow one ferry for the whole journey, leaving the other ferries unprotected.
In the early hours of January 11, 2000, US Coast Guard helicopter pilot Mark Ward responded to a distress call from a ship taking on water, caught in a Nor'easter off the North Carolina coast. Battling 70-mph winds and 30-foot seas, Ward struggled to keep the chopper steady as he and his crew pulled all five fishermen to safety. Ward recalls the mission as one of the most harrowing is the 22 years he spent as a search-and-rescue pilot. And now, he's got a gig ensuring his successors won't face the same dangers: He's the chief test pilot in Sikorsky's autonomous helicopter program. "Even a modest degree of autonomy, your workload goes way down and your stress and apprehension disappears," he says.
Pirate syndicates capturing tankers to siphon oil, causing an estimated cost of $5 billion a year, has become a serious security issue for maritime traffic. In response to the threat, coast guards and navies deploy patrol boats to protect international oil trade. However, given the vast area of the sea and the highly time and space dependent behaviors of both players, it remains a significant challenge to find efficient ways to deploy patrol resources. In this paper, we address the research challenges and provide four key contributions. First, we construct a Stackelberg model of the oil-siphoning problem based on incident reports of actual attacks; Second, we propose a compact formulation and a constraint generation algorithm, which tackle the exponentially growth of the defender’s and attacker’s strategy spaces, respectively, to compute efficient strategies of security agencies; Third, to further improve the scalability, we propose an abstraction method, which exploits the intrinsic similarity of defender’s strategy space, to solve extremely large-scale games; Finally, we evaluate our approaches through extensive simulations and a detailed case study with real ship traffic data. The results demonstrate that our approach achieves a dramatic improvement of scalability with modest influence on the solution quality and can scale up to realistic-sized problems.
The U.S. Coast Guard has seen an uptick in the number of fake distress calls it has received in recent months and is looking to counter the problem with voice recognition technology, the Verge reported. Tasked with law enforcement and search and rescue missions in both domestic and international waters, fielding prank calls has become costly for the Coast Guard since it has to respond by deploying aircraft and clearing airspace for its mission. In response to the pranks, which have been happening nearly every day in recent months, the Coast Guard is planning to adopt voice recognition software to identify the phony callers. The fake calls come in through the Coast Guard's VHF radio channel, essentially the maritime version of 911. Unlike a typical phone call, the radio communications do not have any identifying information like a phone number -- and tracking the source of the transmission presents a number of challenges.
Hoax callers are a special kind of jerk. At best they can cause their targets emotional distress. At worst they can cause or incite property destruction and even divert scarce resources from real emergencies where they are needed to save lives. Technology can sometimes be applied to catch the criminal. Doing so casts technology specialists in the detective role by letting them trace calls to find their origins.
Tambe's systems provided measurable outcomes that prove A.I. can be more efficient in managing patrol schedules than a lone human decision-maker. After LAX security officials implemented Tambe's first software system, called ARMOR, they saw an immediate, five-fold increase in the seizure of weapons, drugs and more. In 2013, a study by Los Angeles Metro found a 66 percent increase in the number of fare jumpers on L.A.'s subways. ARMOR was even adapted for the U.S. Coast Guard to catch illegal fishers in the Gulf of Mexico. ARMOR-FISH, tested in 2014, located illegal activities, though funding for the project has since stalled.
Robots just helped shed light on a maritime tragedy. The US Coast Guard, National Transportation Safety Board and Woods Hole Oceanographic have used both an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and a fiber-controlled craft to find the voyage data recorder of the El Faro, a cargo ship that sank near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin last October. That's no mean feat when its remains are 15,000 feet deep, and the recorder is roughly the size of a coffee can. The recovery should not only help explain the exact circumstances of the El Faro's final moments, but provide some closure to the families of the 33 crew members that lost their lives.