DHS Awards Virginia Company $200K to Begin Automated Machine Learning Prototype Test

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced that DataRobot, Inc. of Tysons Corner, Virginia has received $200,000 to begin testing a prototype of a machine learning platform for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS). The award is part of DHS S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP).

Security standards can vary by country, potentially allowing unsafe items or travelers into American ports of entry. CBP provides the GTAS system to other countries free of charge to enable them to meet U.S. security standards through the analysis of risk criteria against standardized air traveler information.

Developing predictive models in GTAS currently requires data scientists and specialists who work at a pace that risks a model being outdated by the time of its completion. DataRobot proposes to apply automated machine learning (AML) to GTAS to expedite the model development process.

“With the number of international travelers to the United States increasing every year, we know we need better and faster tools to process incoming passengers,” said Melissa Ho, SVIP Managing Director. “An enhanced Global Travel Assessment System will mean a better travel experience for all passengers and increased safety for Americans.”

AML technology is easier for non-data scientists to use than traditional machine learning due to AML automatically performing complicated modeling tasks and data preprocessing, which allows programs like GTAS to perform complex functions while simplifying user experience.

“An AML platform could enable GTAS to produce increasingly accurate predictive models,” said Anil John, DHS S&T Identity Management R&D Program Manager. “With a simplified user experience, non-data scientists, such as CBP officers, could have the ability to research, collaborate, test and deploy predictive algorithms and develop insights into potential threats.”                                        

DataRobot received its award under SVIP’s Innovation Other Transaction Solicitation (OTS) Open Source Predictive Analytics, Entity Resolution, and Visualization Tools for the Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS).

Companies participating in the SVIP are eligible for up to $800,000 in non-dilutive funding over four phases to adapt commercial technologies for homeland security use cases.

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