Logo: University of Southern California

Viterbi-CREATE Anti-Terror Program to Protect Airports Passes 6-month Review

LAX will continue and expand use of ARMOR system, police officials announce at meeting
Kelly Gribben
March 04, 2008 —
ARMOR team members met with law enforcement officials at USC to evaluate a 6-month deployment of the system at LAX.[photo and story by Kelly Gribben]
An analysis of a six-month pilot deployment of a University of Southern California-developed computer program to protect airports by making police operations more unpredictable shows that it works.

LAX security officials, Transportation Security Administration representatives and the USC ARMOR team convened on the USC campus recently to evaluate the trial run of ARMOR software, which was deployed at the airport in August 2007 to randomize security checkpoints and canine patrols.

USC's DHS National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) funded ARMOR, which is designed to eliminate the possibility of terrorists or criminals taking advantage of routines and predictability in police operations.

The debrief quickly turned to discussion about sustainability and long-term goals for the software.  A clear vision of the benefits and applicability to other airport security procedures, such as airfield systems, emerged from the review.

Chief James Butts, deputy executive director of law enforcement for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) told the 21 researchers, law enforcement agents and officials gathered that innovative technology is needed to outsmart terrorists in the early stages of their planning.

He called the six-month trial very successful and said his office would be transitioning the software to regular LAX and expanding its uses. he added.  The representatives from LAX were quick to note that the software has become the new gold standard for security checkpoints and canine patrols.

ARMOR team: Left, from left to right,  James Pita, Craig Western, Manish Jain,
and Janusz Marecki. Right, Chris Potway, foreground, Milind Tambe. Photos by Phil Channing.
Detlof von Winterfeldt, director of CREATE, added, "From the research perspective, ARMOR has been a great success story.  Based on one of our graduate student's thesis, CREATE researchers were able to directly apply algorithms to help counter terrorism through a smart randomization of inspections and patrols.  This is wonderful example of USC's research mission to transfer our academic research from the lab to the real world and address a current societal problem.  We see the potential to apply this software to many more areas in the homeland security field."

Initiated by the doctoral thesis of Viterbi artificial intelligence specialist Praveen Paruchuri [Ph.D. 2007 CS]  the ARMOR software was built and continues to be enhanced a team that now includes graduate students Manish Jain, Janusz Marecki, James Pita, Chris Portway and Craig Western. Milind Tambe, of CREATE and the USC Viterbi School Department of Computer Science is the team leader, working with Fernando Ordoñez of the Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

A compilation of press coverage of the ARMOR project can be found at: