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Analytics for Data at Massive Scales

Extracting information from large data sets

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DARPA published its Young Faculty Award (YFA) 2018 Research Announcement today, seeking proposals in 26 different topic areas—the largest number of YFA research areas ever solicited.
Advanced commercially available technologies—such as additive manufacturing (3-D printing), small-scale chemical reactors for pharmaceuticals, and CRISPR gene-manipulation tools—have opened wide access to scientific exploration and discovery. In the hands of terrorists and rogue nation states, however, these capabilities could be misused to concoct chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in small quantities and in form factors that are hard to detect.
DARPA’s SIGMA program, which began in 2014, has demonstrated a city-scale capability for detecting radiological and nuclear threats that is now being operationally deployed. DARPA is building off this work with the SIGMA+ initiative that is focused on providing city- to region-scale detection capabilities across the full chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threat space.
As some 300,000 cheering race fans packed the stands at this year’s Indianapolis 500, behind the scenes an advanced network of sensors kept constant vigilance, providing security officials real-time awareness of any potential weapon-of-mass-destruction/terror (WMD/WMT) threat. The deployment marked the first time that DARPA’s SIGMA+ network seamlessly integrated radiological and chemical sensors with biological threat sensors from the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office.
In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Mark Wrobel, a program manager since 2019 in the agency’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), chronicles progress in the SIGMA+ program and its potential near-term relevance to monitoring the environment for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.