Safecast Visits Washington DC

Last month, thanks to coordination and support from the NRDC and N*Squared, several of us were lucky enough to visit Washington DC during the week of the Nuclear Security Summit for a series of presentations and meetings about what we’ve been up to, what we’ve produced that people might make use of, and who we might be able to further collaborate with.

The week’s events kicked off with a day-long workshop hosted at the NRDC’s offices, attended by emergency response planners, radiation monitoring program directors, and nuclear security program researchers and advisors from the Green Cross International Environmental Security and Sustainability Programme; the MacArthur Foundation’s Nuclear Challenges/International Peace & Security program; DOE/NNSA; FEMA; the Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) of the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS); the Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness of the Fire Department of New York; Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security; and Harrisburg PA/Three Mile Island Emergency Management Division. These invited attendees were joined by Bemnet Alemayehu and Matthew McKinzie of NRDC’s Nuclear Program; Erika Gregory of N*Squared; Safecast advisors Ray Ozzie and Dan Sythe; and Safecasters Sean Bonner, Pieter Franken, Joe Moross, Azby Brown, and Edouard Lafargue.  The workshop was marked by open-minded thinking and a very supportive atmosphere, with each participant giving a brief introduction to their programs which highlighted their concerns and areas of responsibility, and worked towards identifying areas for potential collaboration and mutual involvement.

Pieter Franken talks at NRDC offices about recent Safecast projects. Photo: Sean Bonner

Chief Robert Ingram, WMD Branch Chief, NYFD Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness, outlined preparedness measures being taken in the New York City area for potential radiological incidents, with a emphasis on interagency coordination and communication. Photo: Sean Bonner

Daniel Blumenthal, manager of the Consequence Management programs in the Office of Emergency Response at the DOE/NNSA, led the initial DOE response team dispatched to Japan in March 2011, where they conducted the first aerial radiation monitoring in Fukushima. Here he describes calibration and other issues for aerial monitoring. Photo: Sean Bonner

Attendees listen intently to Blumenthal’s presentation. Photo: Sean Bonner

Paul Walker (far left), director of Green Cross International’s Environmental Security and Sustainability Programme, offered supportive observations regarding the potential contributions citizen science groups like Safecast can make for radiation monitoring following terrorist incidents or other radiological emergencies. Photo: Sean Bonner

On day three, we gave a brief talk mid-day at the Solutions For A Secure Nuclear Future (SSNF) conference, the official NGO-focussed side summit event organized to feed policy recommendations to the Nuclear Security Summit itself. Our presentation, billed as “innovative content,” proposed roles for citizen science in the nuclear security sphere. The presentation was warmly received and led to expressions of interest from attendees from all over the globe. Photo: Pieter Franken

A video of our presentation at SSNF has been posted online (the actual presentation starts at about 03:50)

SSNF Presentation: Safecast Citizen Radiation Monitoring from Fissile Materials Working Group on Vimeo.

Safecast’s SSNF presentation team. From left: Matthew McKinzie, Azby Brown, Pieter Franken, Sean Bonner, Joe Moross, Dan Sythe. Photo:  Bemnet Alemayehu

Safecast was provided with a display table at the SSNF NGO summit venue, where delegates could learn more about the Safecast system and try out bGeigie Nanos.

Other productive meetings were held that week, including one at DARPA with the director of the SIGMA program (sorry, no photos!), which uses massivey-deployed, low-cost, pocket-sized detector units to create realtime radiation maps. Sound familiar? We also spent an afternoon at the EPA learning more about the RAD-NET system and its ongoing challenges, and briefing their team on the capabilities of our POINTCAST realtime radiation monitoring system. Photo: Bemnet Alemayehu