New York police launch system to detect radiation

Wed Aug 3, 2011 11:05am EDT
 
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By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Police Department is launching a mobile radiation detection system equipped with location-tracking GPS technology that it says could help avert a so-called dirty bomb attack.

While more than 2,000 belt-mounted radiation detectors are already used by city police, this will be the first time in the United States they will be combined with GPS technology to allow central monitoring, said police spokesman Paul Browne.

If the technology is proven in New York it could appear elsewhere in the country.

The move comes as police, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, continue a long-term project to permanently increase vigilance in Manhattan, which police say has potential future targets for attacks that could include a dirty bomb, a low-intensity device that can contaminate the area with radioactive material.

A squad of 210 officers was being assigned to the World Trade Center site and surrounding area, parts of which are still under construction. Many officers will have detectors that can send an alert to a central command center if a spike in radiation levels is detected.

"The information that the officer is reading will simultaneously be wirelessly transmitted to this coordination center, up on a map where you can see all of Lower Manhattan," Browne said.

With the GPS technology, data from several officers could be used to triangulate the location of a stationary object or to track the direction of a moving object.

"We're also going to be putting these in fixed locations on bridges, for example," Browne said. "Eventually you have an infrastructure of trip wires that picks up on radiation."   Continued...