According to the Federal Communication Commission, wireless services experienced an annual growth rate five times greater than the overall market 1992-2007. Some analysts predict that within five years more users will connect to the Internet using wireless devices than with desktop computers. Wireless signal penetration is expanding correspondingly to meet these proliferating needs.

Due to this explosive growth, new opportunities are emerging in wireless technology research and development. Funded by The National Science Foundation, Dr. Yingying Chen of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Stevens Institute of Technology and Dr. Hui Xiong in the Management Systems and Information Systems Department at Rutgers University have teamed up to capitalize on the enormous potential of large-scale pervasive wireless networks to passively detect environmental changes caused by moving objects; providing a means for intruder detection and emergency alerts.

Wireless infrastructures are everywhere. They exist wherever we shop, work, live, and even where we fight battles. These ubiquitous wireless frequencies can be used to assist in a wide range of applications that monitor situations in security, emergency, and military environments, such as detecting intruders in industrial facilities, identifying the locations of people trapped in burning buildings, and monitoring and securing battlefields.

Chen's and Xiong's funded research, "NeTSE:Small:Collaborative Research: MILAN: Multi-Modal Passive Intrusion Learning in Pervasive Wireless Environments," will demonstrate how to capitalize on existing wireless networks to supplement or replace separate security or monitoring systems, providing cost savings to industry. By utilizing latent wireless signals, a secure office building, for example, could activate the MILAN monitoring system at night to detect the presence of human activity and therefore potential intruders. During the day, MILAN would lie dormant while its critical component, the wireless infrastructure, continues its primary role in providing Internet access for users.

MILAN's distinction will be its ability to monitor passive objects that neither cooperate nor carry radio devices and may be unaware that they are being tracked. A core research objective is establishing effective learning mechanisms that allow MILAN to operate this passive intrusion learning system.

As Dr. Chen explains, "In passive intrusion learning, it is essential to differentiate intrusion activities from random environmental changes and false positives." MILAN also respects data privacy, and Dr. Chen states, "The privacy preserving and monitoring component will explore privacy protection techniques to sanitize the data whenever necessary."

"As broadband networks become increasingly important to our national and global interests, Stevens and our partner, Rutgers, are at the forefront of research and development of innovative wireless technologies that will set the stage for major advances in remote sensing, intruder detection and emergency response," says Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Schaefer School of Engineering and Science.

Over the next few years, the demand for new mobile devices and wireless services is set to cover the globe in an increasingly thick blanket of signals thus enabling the technological advances of MILAN that will change how we analyze and react to the emergencies and intrusions in a digital age.

About Professor Chen and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Stevens

Dr. Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation UniversityTM. She leads Stevens' Data Analysis and Information Security Laboratory (DAISY Lab), which facilitates research into access and security of data on wireless networks. Earlier this year, Dr. Chen received a NSF CAREER Award for early career faculty development in recognition of her integrated efforts as a teacher and scholar.

"She has been actively contributing to several team projects within the ECE department and integrates her research into graduate courses and undergraduate projects," says Dr. Yu-Dong Yao, ECE Department Director. "This NSF CAREER award will significantly enhance Prof. Chen and her students' research in security and wireless networking."

ECE at Stevens is a leader in applied, practical research into wireless networks and prepares students for careers in growing fields such as networking and computer engineering. In 2009, ECE faculty received over $1 million in NSF grant funding for research in wireless communications, cognitive radio, and network security. This funding not only enables further research into computing technology, but also supports additional instructional opportunities for students at Stevens.