TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: High-Tech Sniffers Try to Stop 'Dirty' Bombs

Re: High-Tech Sniffers Try to Stop 'Dirty' Bombs

Wed, 09 Nov 2005 14:41:44 -0800

In article <>, Mark Clayton
<> wrote:

> By Mark Clayton, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

> If a terrorist tried to sneak a "dirty" bomb into the United States,
> would anyone notice?

> Possibly. Radiation detectors rushed into service since 9/11 might
> sound the alarm at seaports, border checkpoints, and mail-handling
> facilities.


> Innovative technologies: One possible technology, from Lawrence
> Livermore National Laboratory, is RadNet, a kind of global positioning
> system married to a radiation detector packed into a cellphone. The
> idea is that this "cellphone sniffer" could be carried by police
> officers on their daily routes -- all the while detecting radiation
> and transmitting coordinates to a computer that maps hot zones for
> investigation.

Or perhaps rudimentary radiation detectors (and possibly sensors of
other types, bio or chemical) built into _every_ cell phone: one
sensor per phone, randomly allocated, not available to user control.

If the sensor detects a signal above a set threshold, the phone just
silently dials in to a collection center computer, reports the fact,
then shuts down for a selected dead time.

The collection center computers collect and collate all these reports,
and if a sufficient density of reports start showing up in a given
area (or along a given track), alerts a human to take a look at the
accumulated data, and maybe send a human responder out to look at the
general location, or perhaps just auto-query other phones in the same

Location to the nearest cell tower ought to be enough for a start; GPS
location accuracy not required, at least not initially. The problem
of occasional false positives is greatly reduced by having a large
ensemble of reporting devices.

If you can build a complete camera into a cell phone for, what is it,
about $10 or $20, seems like, with a little development, you should be
able to put in just a single rudimentary sensor for the same or less.

If I were to post this same idea to comp.risks, I suspect a lot of
potential downsides and unanticipated problems with it would also
emerge. Seems worth thinking about nonetheless.

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