Networked radiological protection

Why the power of a network is the modern way to protect an area from a radiological attack.

The solution to protecting cities, transport hubs, borders and other critical areas

The central idea of total networked radiological protection is that the best way to protect a location from a radiological attack (for example a radiological dispersal device also know as a dirty bomb) or to protect against the smuggling of nuclear material is to have an always-on, ubiquitous radiation detection and alerts system in place. This networked radiological protection provides a source of information on the background NORM radiation levels in the location and allows for suspect source to quickly identified and tracked wherever they arise.

Imagine if all the traffic cameras in a city broadcast to separate screens each in a different room, no one could see all the screens in one place. This is the current state of radiation protection, lots of different types of detectors reporting their findings locally and no-one looking at the bigger picture.

Networked radiological protection of a city

Cities are made up of many possible terrorist targets

Radiological protection must look beyond the obvious ones of government buildings, transport hubs and utility infrastructure, places of worship, sports events and places of business. If the intention is to spread fear and create maximum disruption than anywhere the people gather is a target, as are monuments and other sites tied to national or religious identity.
With possible terrorist targets spread over a wide area, it is also difficult to operate a defence in depth strategy, where rings of detectors protect one location on access routes to that location. If the attack can come from any direction, does not follow a road and might not target protected areas, what can the CBRNE professional do?

Sporting events are possible radiological terror targets

Attack from any direction

If an attack can come from any direction and target any location then identifying radiological threat should be spread like a net over the whole area, not just around what are perceived to be the likely targets.

Too many potential targets

If the target for an attack could be anything or anyone, then a comprehensive always-on networked solution protects all citizens but allows for reinforced detection for apparent targets.

Avoiding radiation detectors

If the perpetrators of an attack or smugglers can see or can find out where radiation detectors are, then they can be avoided. Large volume, static detectors have a role to play, but this must be supplemented with radiation detectors that can be used covertly.

The number of detectors is one part of a complete solution

It might seem to make sense to flood an area with radiation detectors, but there is a problem with this approach. Protecting any location with a large number of non-networked radiation sensors (from large volume static detectors to portable radiation detectors) provides some protection for an area. However, it is reliant on the individual seeing the alert and taking appropriate action which given the number of things that could be going on at the same time may or may not happen. Even if the warning is seen and identified as not a false alarm, it can be challenging to track where the suspect package has moved.

Radiological attacks can come from any and every direction

Networking is a powerful solution to CBRNE defence

Like most other things in life, a network is more resilient to interference and can leverage the power of the crowd – in this case, the crowd is made up of first responders, CBRNE professionals and others experienced with radiation to arrive at a more informed decision. If a team can see the radiation alert, it is less likely to be missed. The network can then keep track of a suspect package as it moves with different detectors reporting its location, narrowing the search until the location of the suspect discovered.

There are two things at work here:

  1. The power of the crowd to see things that an individual might miss and to reach a more informed decision based on their collective experience and understanding.
  2. The power of the network, linking all the data coming in from the radiation sensors creates a clearer picture as to what is happening in the location and means things are less likely to be missed.

Find out more

Find out more about Kromek's SIGMA Network radiation detection products.

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