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'Living lab' to explore innovative border, homeland security solutions

March 07, 2012

ASU's Polytechnic campus has partnered with the General Dynamics C4 Systems-sponsored EDGE Innovation Network to extend the existing Fed/Civ EDGE Innovation Center to ASU's College of Technology and Innovation. The center will provide an open and collaborative environment for government agencies to work directly with academia and industry to research and propose solutions to pressing border and homeland security challenges.

In addition to the center, a new four-acre ‘living laboratory’ at the Polytechnic campus will offer a test bed in realistic outdoor conditions for researchers and industry to test and evaluate ideas and proposed solutions.

“ASU's work with the EDGE Innovation Network exemplifies the way industry and government partners rely on faculty and students at the College of Technology and Innovation to help solve tough technical and practical challenges,” said Mitzi Montoya, vice provost and dean, College of Technology and Innovation.

The living laboratory is a hands-on environment that will enable industry and academia to explore and integrate various technologies such as broadband wireless communications and surveillance that may benefit Border Patrol and other agencies.

“This partnership is an important step in ongoing efforts to secure the southwest border,” said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems. “Within the unique EDGE environment, industry and academia will come together to better understand homeland security challenges, like those facing the Border Patrol, to rapidly develop solutions that will make their jobs safer and more efficient.”

The Fed/Civ EDGE Innovation Center and outdoor lab will be staffed by teams of professional engineers, academic personnel and students engaged in research related to border security, emergency management, renewable energy and sustainability. For example, the outdoor lab will test new and innovative capabilities that could be integrated into the national network of towers that comprise the national Rescue 21 system, currently in use by the Department of Homeland Security.

“The living lab will be part of the Collaboratory, CTI’s platform for collaboration with external partners for research and education in areas that include sustainability, aerospace and defense, and conservation and renewable energy,” said Anshuman Razdan, associate professor and project director.

The college and General Dynamics CS4 Systems EDGE Innovation Network also partnered earlier this year on a student project as part of the CTI’s iProjects program.

The student team is developing a Self-Contained Outpost (SCOP) that can support the needs of around 25 soldiers for up to 90 days. The SCOP is completely self-sufficient and uses solar panels to generate electricity to low-power appliances and a water purification system.

“Arizona and ASU are home to a number of research and commercial interests with the ability to address challenges in energy, security and defense,” said Montoya. “Our partnership with General Dynamics is one of example of how we partner with industry leaders to tackle real-world programs that have global impact.”