[ RadSafe ] USA Today article about cell phone radiation (and chem / bio) detectors

Jim Hardeman Jim_Hardeman at dnr.state.ga.us
Fri May 4 14:54:19 CDT 2007

Colleagues --
URL = http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techpolicy/2007-05-03-cellphone-attack-detector_N.htm?csp=34 
Hmmm, let's see, there are somewhere on the order of 60,000 nuclear medicine procedures performed each day in the US, mostly on an out-patient basis -- and most of these folks will likely have a cell phone. Does anybody but me see a problem w/ pulling the real hazard out of the "noise" here? Unless the cost of a cell phone goes up to say $10K to cover the cost of the onboard gamma spectrometer (not to mention the cost of the chem/bio sensors) there will a LOT of alarms, and a LOT of folks running around trying to "adjudicate" (don't y'all just LOVE that word?!) them all. Talk about job security!
Jim Hardeman
Jim_Hardeman at dnr.state.ga.us 
Phones studied as Attack Detector
By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON * The government is researching whether the best defense against a chemical, biological or radiological attack might one day be right in everyone's hands * or on their ears.

Homeland Security officials are looking into outfitting cellphones with detectors that would alert emergency responders to radiological isotopes, toxic chemicals and biological agents such as anthrax.
"If it's successful, it'll change the way chemical, biological and radiation detection is done," says Rolf Dietrich, deputy director of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, which invests in high-tech solutions to secure the nation against terrorist attacks. "It's a really, really neat thing."
Dietrich says it's way too early to know whether the idea would work, and department officials are just beginning talks with phone companies and privacy advocates. If it does work, he says, it could be a "game-changer" in how the nation recognizes and responds to a deadly attack.
Since the 9/11 attacks, the government has spent billions of dollars putting sensors along borders, at airports, in subway stations and any other crowded place that might be a terrorist target. The idea is to detect an attack as soon as it happens, evacuate people quickly and get them the antidote or medicine they would need to survive.
Fixed sensors can't be placed everywhere. "If the intent is to have ubiquitous detection, there's nothing quite as ubiquitous as a cellphone," Dietrich says.

The Homeland Security Department says the program, called Cell-All, might work this way: Detectors would be placed in cellphones, most of which are already linked to the Global Positioning System. If a detector recorded a hit, the GPS would transmit the location and time to local emergency responders and Homeland Security's operations center.
The responders would go to the scene; Homeland Security would issue warnings and inform police departments and FBI offices across the country.
If there was just one hit, it could be a false positive and there wouldn't be much cause for concern, Dietrich says. But multiple hits from the same area would prompt an immediate response.
There are bound to be hurdles along the way, including privacy concerns. Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies, a non-profit civil liberties group, says the government should invest in intelligence officers instead of "pie-in-the-sky technologies that aren't proven to work."
Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation says he's wary of any program in which "consumer products become surveillance devices for the government."
Dietrich stressed that the program, first reported in the security industry newsletter Homeland Defense & Security Monitor, would be voluntary. "Not all people would want to play in this game," he says.

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