Many current plans call for responders to charge head-first into the disaster zones, to take readings by hand. They are handed a cell phone, Geiger counter, and a GPS. They have to go out into the wilderness and find a specific point, marked on the GPS. Then, they must take a reading with the Geiger counter, drive to somewhere with reception, and call the results in to the command office.
This obviously presents many problems. The largest of which is that in an emergency, when seconds count, it could take hours for all the stations to report in even just the initial values, forget sustained data. Considering it is the 21st century, I went to work looking for an IOT system that could take radiological readings in the field, and send them back to the command post. However, there were many issues with the currently available systems:
1. Cost. Many of these systems cost in excess of $5,000 per unit. This is nearly impossible to maintain when you have a small county trying to monitor 10-20 locations at once.
2. Communication Dependencies. We keep a hard copy of every plan ever. No reliance on cloud servers or anything that can be disrupted in a disaster when we would need it. Many currently available systems for radiation monitoring required communication with external servers, which may be unreachable or unreliable in a disaster.
3. Hardware Dependencies. A lot of the area surrounding nuclear power plants is woodlands or sparsely populated areas (because, well, who'd build a reactor in the middle of downtown?). When you have a system that requires constant 4G and 120V AC connection to function, this suddenly turns into a difficult operation. Do you spend thousands to install new poles and run power out there, just in the off chance that something goes wrong? What if a storm knocks out a power pole in the middle of nowhere? How long will it take to get fixed?
So, I set to work developing a low-cost alternative to the currently available systems, using off-the-shelf items and simple, affordable systems. The new system will be easy to adopt and implement, and will be able to be made from parts purchased online.
This system also serves to save lives, not just money. Quicker response times allows for more rapid evacuations, better targeted responses, and safer work enviroments for first responders.
Here on Hackaday, I will document the development, prototyping, testing, and hopefully, the deployment of this technology, to help protect millions here in the US, and around the world. Upon completion, I hope to release this project under a CC BY-NC-SA license.