The security and defense of our nation has become a priority in the last decade. Ten years ago when the Berlin Wall came down, we rejoiced in the fact that the major nuclear powers were now at peace. That peace has been shattered in all corners of the globe by a far more insidious threat – terrorism.
The bombings of the embassies in Africa, and much closer to home, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building, in Oklahoma City, are but two examples of both the domestic and foreign terrorism we face.
What can we do to stop, or at least limit the collateral damage to lives and property? The Center has been working for some time on sensors, which detect the presence of explosive components used in these deadly devices.
Had such sensors been available, and in place on the federal building in Oklahoma, warnings would have sounded the second the van came near the building and many precious lives would have been spared. The sensors are unobtrusive and can detect particles at one in millions. They can be used on all public buildings; transport in fact anywhere considered a target for terrorism.
Security devices in place today, are extremely limited in their capabilities. Take for example security cameras. They serve a purpose, but, to be effective, each camera must be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even then, it is the judgment of the personnel monitoring the cameras to decide if there is an immediate threat. Put these cameras together with the sensors and you have a system that is continuously monitoring, and can detect threats that the human eye cannot see. In the case of cars or vans used as delivery systems for explosives, the personnel watching the monitors will detect only the fact that a vehicle is present. The sensors will detect that what is inside the vehicle is a potential threat, and sound an alarm.
The Center has also considered the problem of land mines. Thousands of people are killing and maimed each year from land mines left over from numerous wars. The clearing of these devices is a tedious, not to mention dangerous job. If these explosive detection sensors could be scattered from the air, over a potential minefield, they would give a clear picture of where every mine is situated, thereby reducing the threat to the personnel clearing the mines. To take this a step further micro robotics could be used to either detonate or disarm the mines, without a single human being, placed in jeopardy.
Sensors are underway, not only to detect explosive materials, including nuclear, but biological weapons and illegal narcotics. In fact nearly, anything, which constitutes a threat, can be programmed into these sensors.