Initially there were 60 to 100 alarms per hour when they started and now it’s at 1.2 cameras per day, some getting an alarm every other day.
Smiths Detection’s Anthony Pocari spoke on “Emerging Technologies for Mass Transit CBRNE Systems.” As he said, agencies know there is a low probability, but there are very high consequences if it does occur. And, terrorists know that chemical attacks work.
There are primarily two types of technology used for detection: “hand-helds” for individual threats, such as K-9 units or selective screening to swab bags; or to protect an entire area with chemical detectors.
While Pocari couldn’t share specifics, of course, about where detectors are located or what chemicals are detected, he provided information on what some of the latest technologies in use are doing to protect agencies.
At WMATA, the key is to get an early alert with the chemical detector so that a response can happen within a few minutes of when the chemical is released. Once released, the alert is cued at the command center and they are able to access CCTV verification.
Firefighters are able to connect with their laptops to see what’s going on inside so they know what they are walking in to.
Because of the integration between facility and responders, Pocari said it’s important to visit with all users and stakeholders to find out what each need.
Important to the agency was that the system be “stupid-proof,” so it’s intuitive. Almost to the extent that if they forgot everything, it would still work so that if anyone freezes at the time of an incident, it will still work.
When it comes to autonomous detectors for biohazards, Pocari said he doesn’t think we’ll see something for about five years yet. Particulate samplers in systems are taken twice daily, but you won’t know about an attack for 12 to 36 hours.
And, if you release Anthrax on a subway, the train just moves it: pushes it out and four hours later it’s gone to the outdoors, on the train car filters, in the track bed, etc. The transit system mitigates it, itself within about four hours, so currently the systems detect to treat, not to protect.
There is an exploratory study going on at the MBTA for a detect-to-protect system that would potentially provide confirmation in 30 to 60 minutes of exposure.
Pocari summarized a few future trends we can expect:
- Chem systems will expand to add radiation, nuclear, bio and explosive detection
- CBRNE systems will be integrated to the PSIM solution
- Advanced detection systems will be used to enhance CBRNE response
- Lifecycle costs are more important in design due to budget pressures.