Can Technology help fight against terrorism?

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January 7, 2015
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The recent Peshawar attacks have left the nation, and the world at large, in shock. It is mind numbing how a small group of militants can disrupt the basic sense of security of an entire nation. As we gather the pieces of our broken selves, we are left to wonder, is there no way to stop this inhumanity?

Veterans of each sector are brainstorming what they can do to avert these seemingly unpredictable threats and develop sufficient response mechanisms to cope with the unthinkable. The IT sector is no different and we need more visionaries to focus on tech that saves lives.

Pakistani political leaders have put aside their differences to find a sustainable solution, but the grave realities of this issue seem to have left them with no clear answer. Western initiatives like the ‘*Science for Peace and Security*’ program by NATO and the ‘*9/11 Commission Recommendations’* by US Department for Homeland Security are already working on research, screening mechanisms and grants. Still, the world feels less safe as each day goes by.

Besides military/warfare technology advancement, recent technology that may help defuse threats in civilian establishments like schools and malls includes the Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) that can be installed like security cameras to remotely monitor a suspect’s physiological responses like heartbeat, respiration, eye movement, and thermal profile to detect a potential threat.

Another profiling tool, that may especially be useful for IDP registration, is Security Electronic Enrollment Kit (SEEK II), that uses biometric data to identify registered citizens with criminal records, and also enables remote data entry for new registrations via 3G networks.

Dr. Zeeshan Usmani, PhD and MS in Computer Science and a Pakistani Fulbright Scholar, developed a modeling software for catastrophic events like suicide bombings. In his TED Talk: “Countering Terror with Technology”, he demoed his forensic analysis software for emergency response management before and after terror attacks. Unfortunately, his work was not adopted by government authorities when approached and remains dormant.

Most philanthropic tech research is geared towards disease/disability, poverty eradication, global connectivity and climate control. Terrorism is a real world problem that people are afraid to discuss in open forums. We need more techies to commit to the cause, whether in open forums or utilizing tools such as the deep web, and float ideas that may one day help enable a safe, efficient and sustainable planet.

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