San Diego State University lab tries to spot 'dirty bombs'

At San Diego State University's Department of Homeland Security Immersive Visualization Center, they're trying to spot "dirty bomb" components accurately. The lab recently unviled a joint homeland security project that they did with Defentect to create a perimeter system for the detection of radiation.

Set up at the perimeter to the lab on the SDSU campus, the system is designed to detect radiological materials. It uses a software platform from Defentect for management, monitoring and messaging along with a GT2 gross gamma detection sensor. Also in use to provide a video surveillance element (to give the gamma sniffer some eyes), are Axis network cameras tied to an OnSSI Ocularis IP video management system.

"People can visit Viz Lab's courtyard and experience the system firsthand," said Dr. Eric Frost, the founder and co-director of SDSU Immersive Visualization Center and co-director of the university's homeland security master's degree program. "This program is one more way the Viz Lab is working to evaluate and enhance tools and technologies to help both public and private entities deal with potential hazards with accuracy and speed -- important in the face of mounting and unseen threats."

According to SDSU and technology partners, the system could have applications beyond simply controlling the movement of radiological materials. Defentect's Joey Dusina thought that hospitals might be one area of application for the system.

"Hospitals are grappling with how to quickly and accurately identify and alert to the presence of radiologically contaminated persons following a radiological incident so they can be treated, while lowering risk of exposure to hospital personnel and other patients."

The system has apparently already been demonstrated to the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego County HAZMAT, and to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, as well as some California hospitals.