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Margaret Kalacska

Can remote sensing find clandestine crossing points for human trafficking?

July 10, 2008

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Criminology researcher Margaret Kalacska (right) is one of eight Canadian scholars to receive a national research fellowship from the Canadian International Council (CIC), a non-partisan institution established to strengthen Canada’s role in international affairs.

The fellows will research and produce new foreign policy insights for national debate and discussion.

Kalacska’s research examines the effectiveness of remote sensing (airborne and satellite imagery techniques) in forensic and environmental applications.

She is currently researching the use of remote sensing to identify potential clandestine crossing points for illegal commodities and people along the unmanned portions of the Canada/U.S. border.

"With improved knowledge of the most vulnerable border crossings, law enforcement agencies and border services will be better able to allocate resources for securing and monitoring the border against trafficking and illegal crossings," says Kalacska.

The project builds on her previous research in two experimental imagery-collection projects conducted by NASA and the Costa Rican Centre for High Technology.

Data from one of the projects was used for searching a simulated mass gravesite in Costa Rica. The study involved burying free-range, antibiotic-free cattle carcasses and collecting data in the field over a 16-month period, and aerially one month following burial.

Kalacska and SFU criminologist Lynne Bell then assessed the effectiveness of the airborne technology in relation to such factors as vegetation growth. A paper on their study will appear in January 2009 in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.
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