Biodetection tech-guide app a big hit with first-responders

The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed a mobile biodetection technology guide for smartphones. | Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy

More than 10,000 copies of a guide to biodetection technologies have been downloaded by first-responders to their cell phones and tablets, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) created the guide, called "Biodetection Technologies for First Responders: 2014 Product Guide." Because first-responders don't always have access to a computer, the mobile version allows for immediate information on smartphones and tablets.

"The new app will provide easier access to the updated report, which is a valuable product-buying guide for first-responders and purchasing specialists," PNNL principal investigator Cindy Bruckner-Lea said. "With dozens of companies, technologies and sampling products listed, the guide provides a convenient and useful resource to firefighters, law enforcement and hazardous-materials response teams."

The guide is currently only available for Apple products, and it summarizes an extensive list of commercially available, hand-portable technologies. Having the right equipment available during an emergency situation can be a challenge, and the guide hopes to help first-responders.

The guide is only one part of PNNL's larger effort to help assess commercial, hand-portable and off-the-shelf biodetection technology.

PNNL was founded in 1965, and it employs about 4,300 people with an annual budget of more than $1 billion.