InterSpec (Sandia National Laboratories)

Sandia app assesses radiation threats

When responders arrive at a hospital, laboratories or industrial emergency where radiation may be present, they need a way to quickly assess the situation.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a software application that can rapidly and accurately analyze gamma radiation data collected at the scene. InterSpec updates, strengthens and integrates many radiation analysis tools and resources into a single, easy-to-use mobile or desktop application.

“InterSpec allows decision-makers to rapidly identify both radioisotopes and shielding materials around the source,” software developer and physicist Will Johnson said. “InterSpec is also a valuable tool for laboratories and other academic and industrial settings where an accurate understanding of detected radiological material is crucial.”

In many emergencies, radiation experts are not immediately available, but InterSpec allows even people with limited analysis experience to get the detailed radiation information they need to make quick decisions.

It combines radiation physics, radiation transport calculations and detector response functions with a radioisotope database to rapidly compute radiation quantities, Sandia officials said.

 “You can take the radiation data from any detector, and InterSpec will identify the radiation source, describe its shielding and calculate the radiation dose,” Sandia researcher Edward Walsh said. “InterSpec will also tell you if it’s dangerous for you to be around this source. The tool is amazing.”

The software runs on multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, iOS and Android and on all web browsers, so users in different settings can quickly exchange data and share a unified view of the information. Additionally, InterSpec works in isolated or shielded environments with no network connectivity needed.

While InterSpec focuses on performing spectral analysis of gamma radiation data, responders can also tap into the RadResponder network, a cloud-based service that uses wireless devices for collecting and sharing radiological data in real time. A collaboration between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, RadResponder lets organizations rapidly and securely record, share and aggregate large quantities of data.

The data is accessible through a flexible, free set toolset, including wireless APIs and a "one-stop-shop" website that can be used on-site by local responders ahead of the arrival of federal officials. The website also can also provide a central source of photos of the incident, maps, messaging capabilities and other tools.

RadResponder is free of charge to all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial response organizations.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.


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