News: Radiation sensors hunt nuclear terror threats


The threat sounds like something from a Tom Clancy novel: A terrorist organization obtains a nuclear device or dirty bomb and sends it into a major city in the back of a truck. How can our security authorities find it before it’s too late? Sensors are available to spot when something “hot” is their range, but how does that information get where it needs to be? Thermo Fisher Scientific helps fill that gap with a new radiation detection platform.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., has announced its ViewPoint enterprise system, a three-pronged platform that delivers advanced radiation threat detection and readiness by closing the gap between detection, communication and decision analysis. The company says the system enables real-time, remote transmission of field radiological, gaseous, physiological, meteorological or other data to mobile, office or central command and control centers for security and first response monitoring. The system is designed for infrastructure protection, nuclear facility monitoring, field personnel monitoring, first response and vehicle-based interdiction and response.

“We designed the ViewPoint enterprise as a readiness engine that redefines the meaning of true preparedness,” says Thomas Loewald, president of environmental instruments for Thermo Fisher Scientific. “To be truly prepared, you not only require a capability to detect nuclear, biological or environmental threats, but you also must have the supporting technology that allows you to respond real-time and make swift, accurate decisions during actual threats. By closing the gaps between technology, systems and people, the ViewPoint enterprise enables our customers to rapidly mobilize in the face of a real threat.”

Here are ways the company envisions the system might track an event:

First response to a radiation release: If a nuclear facility experiences a release of radioactive material, ViewPoint can provide real-time and historical trending analysis and can superimpose data on configurable maps, enabling rapid and accurate response decisions.

Personal monitoring: If a response team goes into a potentially hazardous zone to evaluate or rescue victims, the personnel view capability enables the remote transmission of any personnel data back to a command and control/office support center, the discrete monitoring of a large crowd, and the physiological monitoring of individuals for heat stress.

Vehicle-based interdiction or intervention: If a marine patrol craft is entering a port, harbor or coastal waterway, ViewPoint allows patrol boats to covertly monitor radiation levels of marine craft from a reasonable distance.

Fixed mounted infrastructure protection: For buildings and stadiums, critical roadways, bridges and tunnels, airports and train stations, ViewPoint enables discrete and transparent monitoring of foot and vehicle traffic for any field data. Large volume radiation detectors can be mounted on vehicles to provide ground and/or area radiation readings.

The system is compatible with third-party meteorological, GPS, or other hazard/dose assessment software systems.

—Edited by Peter Welander, process industries editor, , Control Engineering Weekly News

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