"A DARPA program aimed at preventing attacks involving radiological ‘dirty bombs’ and other nuclear threats has successfully developed… a network of smartphone-sized mobile devices that can detect the tiniest traces of radioactive materials," DARPA stated.
Combined with larger detectors along major roadways, bridges, other fixed infrastructure and in vehicles, the new networked devices promise significantly enhanced awareness of radiation sources and greater advance warning of possible threats, DARPA explained.
During a month-long test conducted with the New York City Port Authority, the system provided more than a 100-fold increase in ability to locate and identify sources of radiation as compared to currently installed systems," DARPA noted.
The new pocket-sized radiation "pager" sensors can be easily worn on a person’s belt, are one-tenth the cost of conventional sensors, and are up to ten times faster in detecting gamma and neutron radiation, the agency pointed out.
DARPA is planning to demonstrate SIGMA’s full city- and regional-scale, continuous wide-area monitoring capability in 2017 and to transition the operational system to local, state and federal entities in 2018.