Yasmeen Khan is a reporter covering education. You can find her stories on the air and on SchoolBook.org, WNYC’s education website.
NYPD To Use Dirty Bomb Detection System
Friday, July 29, 2011
New technology will allow the NYPD to better detect and prevent a potential radiation attack, such as a dirty bomb, police said.
The wireless technology will allow a command center in lower Manhattan to monitor 2,000 mobile radiation detectors carried by officers around the city, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
"If one officer's device began to measure radiation and several others were in other parts of the city at the same time, for example, that would be seen in real time automatically in this coordination center downtown," he said.
A dirty bomb is intended to spread panic by using a small explosive, such as dynamite, to carry radioactive material. Authorities say they consider dirty bombs a serious threat, since they are easy to build and law enforcement has intelligence that foreign terrorists want to use them against American cities.
Browne calls the radiation detection system "groundbreaking," and said New York City is the first in the country to the program. It's being developed as part an ongoing effort to centralize counter-terrorism work in the command center in lower Manhattan, he said.
The initiative will rely on 3,000 closed-circuit security cameras covering about 1.7 square miles south of Canal Street, the subway system and parts of midtown Manhattan. So far, about 1,800 cameras are up and running, with the rest expected to come on line by the end of the year.
Police say the overall plan was inspired by the so-called "ring of steel" encircling the business district in London but is broader in scope and sophistication.
With the Associated Press