Military researchers tapping into IoT technology to stop terrorists atom bomb attacks on U.S. cities

June 15, 2017
ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers are tapping into today's latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology to help prevent terrorists from placing and detonating atom bombs in or around the nation's large metropolitan areas.
ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers are tapping into today's latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology to help prevent terrorists from placing and detonating atom bombs in or around the nation's large metropolitan areas.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., issued a request for information (RFI) Wednesday (DARPA-SN-17-53) for the SIGMA Network project, which is part of a larger overall DARPA program to prevent the use of terrorist nuclear bombs in U.S. cities.

U.S. military researchers are asking for industry's help to apply today's most advanced IoT technologies to potential networks of thousands of low-cost radiation sensors linked throughout U.S. cities by WiFi and cellular phone systems to a cloud-based network backbone.

DARPA and the agency's industry partners have been working on the SIGMA system for the past several years. It consists of small- and large-form-factor mobile and static radiation sensors to support agile deployment strategies; the network infrastructure to connect as many as 10,000 of these sensors; the cloud-computing infrastructure to analyze streaming spectroscopic data automatically from these sensors in real-time; and store many billions of these spectra for spatiotemporal and forensic analyses in an easily retrievable manner.

Related: DARPA asks industry to develop pocket-sized radiation detectors to foil nuclear terrorism

These networked sensors today can retain local detection capabilities in the event of a network outage, and are inventoried, managed, and displayed to analysts to reveal individual and collective device status and sensor output.

Wednesday's RFI asks industry for information on existing IoT products, potential performers, and new research compatible with the existing SIGMA system.

This RFI seeks information about three specific areas: data storage, ingestion, and networking; component capabilities; and SIGMA enhancements. to detect weapons of mass destruction using low-cost, high-capability radiation sensors, automated detection algorithms, and real-time alerts of potential nuclear terror threats.

For data storage, ingestion, and networking, DARPA experts are looking for new software and network infrastructure that can ingest, analyze, and store data for thousands of spectroscopic sensors reporting at 1 Hz, via kilobyte-sized compressed and encrypted packages.

Related: Cell phone sensors detect radiation to thwart nuclear terrorism

For these sensors DARPA scientists also are interested in bidirectional communication; running several computationally intensive detection, identification, tracking, and sensor fusion algorithms in real-time with minimal latency;the ability to manage inventory and device status; displaying device status, sensor output, and location in real-time; querying recent historical data; storing several years of sensors data; simulating thousands of sensors to replay historical sensor data; security and encryption; deployment on several commercial cloud infrastructures; and expanding into new sensor modalities, detection algorithms, and data fusion.

Component capabilities involves IoT software and organizations with expertise in massive sensor networks real-time; guaranteed advanced data analytics; heterogeneous sensor physics and sensor fusion; and cyber security and privacy concerns.

SIGMA enhancements involve IoT products that could help monitor for weapons of mass destruction other than nuclear bombs, such as chemical or biological weapons, that could threaten the nation's cities.

Related: Homeland Security officials ask industry to develop airborne sensor to find terrorist nuclear-radioactive bombs

These enhancements might include better detection power and alert reliability; as well as integrating new sensors such as chemical and biological agent detectors and cameras.

Companies interested should email responses no later than 27 June 2017 to DARPA at [email protected]. Email questions or concerns to DARPA at [email protected].

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