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Radio Frequency (RF) Sensing of Personnel in Wooded Areas


DHS is seeking innovative solutions to detect, localize and track people in wooded terrain using mesh networks comprised of low power, covert, RF sensors based on standard, inexpensive commercial off the shelf (COTS) products used widely in wireless data networks. The RF system will be cued by an imaging system that initially detects the targets of interest in the open, and the imager cues may be used to assist in mitigating system false alarms. The RF sensor will be responsible for tracking the targets detected by the imaging system through the woods. The proposed system should be low cost, low power, capable of maintaining good detection and localization performance while minimizing false alarms due to moving foliage or variable multipath, and have a reliable method for data ex-filtration. The effort should provide a well-documented path to testing the system in a heavily wooded environment, with an emphasis on understanding the phenomenological factors that may limit performance. The mesh network system is intended to identify personnel that illegally cross the U.S. northern border in remote locations. This requires that the system is capable of working in a variety of foliated conditions (broad leaf forest, pine forests, high grass, etc.) and the range of environmental conditions that can be encountered on the U.S. northern border (temperatures, precipitation, and snow). The remote locations and weather conditions drive the need for a battery powered capability that can last for 1 year. Auxiliary power capability such as solar or wind are not deemed viable because the RF units are intended to be unobtrusive/covert so they are less susceptible to being damaged or removed by personnel who are transiting through the area. The frequency (s) utilized must be benign to humans, animals and the environment, and cause no interference with any local infrastructure. RF sensor networks have been used in other applications, however the environmental conditions that the RF sensor network must contest with in a Northern Border forested area are more severe, particularly with respect to multipath and false alarms from wind driven foliage. The proposed approach must address how these environmental issues will be mitigated, and the Phase I work must demonstrate the viability of the proposed approach.

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