The goal of the SIGMA program, which began in 2014, was to develop and test low-cost, high-efficiency radiation sensors that detect gamma and neutron radiation and to network them via smartphones. This would a distributed detection network that would provide city, state, and federal officials with real-time awareness of potential nuclear and radiological threats such as dirty bombs, which combine conventional explosives and radioactive material to increase their disruptive potential.
Following a demonstration in early 2016 with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey involving more than 100 SIGMA sensors, the SIGMA team conducted a 1,000-detector deployment in Washington, D.C. That test showed the system indeed could fuse the data provided by all those sensors to create minute-to-minute situational awareness of nuclear threats. The technology has been on track for deployment in multiple locations, such as transportation hubs, cities, and other high-population and security-relevant areas
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