The University of Arizona

UA to Develop Investigative Screening Tools via Partnership

By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University Communications | April 28, 2011

The agreement with USIS will allow the UA to move from the laboratory to the testing and development of commercial applications for lie-detection screening.

The BORDERS AVATAR kiosk is an example of the technology UA Eller College of Management researchers have developed using non-invasive artificial intelligence and sensor technologies for lie detection.
The BORDERS AVATAR kiosk is an example of the technology UA Eller College of Management researchers have developed using non-invasive artificial intelligence and sensor technologies for lie detection.

The National Center of Border Security and Immigration, or BORDERS, at the University of Arizona is working to apply its technology, laboratory research and analysis to a commercial partnership that intends to develop high-clearance employee screening tools. 

BORDERS today signed the partnership with USIS, the nation's largest provider of investigation services for the federal government.

The team will develop new investigative tools to enable agencies to conduct comprehensive interviews and inquiries of current and prospective employees, including those of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies with an eye toward commercialization.

BORDERS is a University-based Center of Excellence funded by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.

BORDERS is a consortium of 14 premier institutions dedicated to the development of innovative technologies, proficient processes and effective policies that help protect our nation's borders. Established at the UA in 2008 at the Eller College of Management, BORDERS conducts research on detection, sensor networks, data fusion and immigration policy.

USIS provides services under more than 100 contracts and is the largest commercial provider of background investigations to the federal government. It has more than 6,600 employees working in all 50 states and overseas.

USIS offers litigation support as well as customized solutions for helping government clients manage records, information and documents. In addition, it specializes in construction surveillance services, physical/personnel/facility security and investigative analytics.

UA President Robert N. Shelton, USIS President and CEO Bill Mixon and BORDERS Director and Principal Investigator Jay Nunamaker were present during the agreement signing.

"In its three years at the UA, BORDERS has proven to be an important resource to the state of Arizona and the nation by providing expertise and scientific data to enhance border security by providing timely and relevant information to inform policy makers. This agreement forms a great partnership," Shelton said.

Under the agreement, the research will be conducted at the UA campus in partnership with USIS, building upon the resources at the UA, said Nunamaker, a Regents and Soldwedel professor of MIS, computer science and communication.

"We will partner with the UA College of Optical Sciences, as it can provide guidance in our credibility testing in eye behavior and pupil dilation, as well as work with the UA College of Engineering, as it conducts research in underground sensors and detection. Social science faculty also conduct important research on immigration policies. We will draw upon the breadth and depth of research and expertise at the UA to enhance our services," Nunamaker added.

"The partnership is still evolving, and we look forward to assisting the UA in moving from the laboratory to the real world," said Mixon.

Nunamaker said the Department of Homeland Security is pressing from more research to commercialization endeavors: "Our research has already produced many proprietary and custom-built products relevant to rapid, high-volume screening and we are already developing new applications."

BORDERS researchers bring more than 30 years of experience in credibility assessment and has developed computer-assisted detection tools that assist human interviewers by analyzing and tracking speech and nonverbal behavior. These techniques have shown great promise in discerning both truthful and deceptive information.