The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has deployed more than 1,000 networked mobile detectors at the National Mall in downtown Washington as part of an exercise to track radioactive material threats in urban areas.
DARPA said Friday the scavenger hunt was conducted as part of the agency’s SIGMA program that aims to create networked sensors designed to provide radiation detection capacity over large urban areas.
Hundreds of volunteers participated in the field test and wielded a backpack that contained radiation detectors while walking around the park as they attempted to locate an abducted fictitious physicist.
“We collected and analyzed a huge amount of streaming data as we watched in real-time as participants covered a large portion of D.C.,” said Vincent Tang, a DARPA program manager.
The University of Maryland’s national consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism supported the planning of the day-long deployment with its recruitment of ROTC cadets from universities in the National Capital Region as well as U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen.
DARPA aims to test the system on a full city- and regional-scale as well as demonstrate the program’s continuous wide-area monitoring capacity in 2017 prior to its transition to local, state and federal operational systems in 2018.