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Centers of Excellence Summit hopes to add boost to homeland defense

May 25, 2018   /   by John Hollis

More than 500 university researchers and government and industry leaders will converge at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus May 30-31 for the DHS Centers of Excellence Summit to gain a better understanding of an array of homeland security issues.

The conference, which is being hosted by Mason’s Criminal Investigations Network Analysis Center (CINA), seeks to highlight the vast potential the nation’s academic community offers in providing multidisciplinary solutions to address the disruption of criminal activities across the physical and cyber spaces.

CINA is part of a network of DHS Centers of Excellence that uses science in the pursuit of the development of cutting-edge solutions and innovative educational and training activities in support of DHS.

“We want to show the importance of the academic community for the DHS community,” said Anthony Stefanidis, the director of CINA and the former chair of Mason’s Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science. “In a world that is so rapidly evolving due to technological advances and their effect on societies, DHS needs academia now more than ever, to navigate through newfound problems and to fully exploit emerging opportunities.”

Technological advances have done wonders, but they present their challenges as well in the form of more sophisticated criminal activities that can devastate communities around the globe and wreak havoc everywhere. Technology has allowed these criminals to become more elusive and broaden their scope. Drug trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking and organ and tissue trafficking are just some of the types of crimes that cross both physical and cyber space and require a more modern, cross-disciplinary approach to combatting them.

In addition to showcasing academic excellence, the summit will also feature an impressive array of subject-matter experts. They’ll collectively discuss current and future issues relating to homeland security, showcase innovative technologies, facilitate better collaboration among the various centers from around the nation and provide avenues to accelerate the transition from research and development to field use.

“The world has changed a lot in the last 10 to 15 years,” Stefanidis said. “We have to change with it.”