Cell phones could aid in attack detection

Cell phones could soon be used as nodes as part of a wide reaching chemical weapon sensor network.

Cell phones are being developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and NASA that will contain small sensors that can detect harmful chemicals, including those used in terrorist attacks. Upon detection of those chemicals, the phones would alert their user and automatically report to government authorities.

This new method of crowd sourcing chemical attacks, called Cell-All, would allow sensor coverage to be provided at places where large groups of people congregate, such as shopping malls and athletic stadiums as well as on public transportation, which has shown to be hard to properly prepare for a terrorist attack.

The technology is not without its drawbacks, however, with technical director of Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency's Stephen Dennis, telling DefenseNews.com that the technology doesn't not currently exist to outfit the phones with small biological sensors.

Biological sensors are more complicated than their chemical brethren and often require multicomponent analysis systems and fluids that must be refreshed.

The current plan for Cell-All calls for between 40 to 60 phones to be deployed by the end of the year as a proof of concept for the crowd sourcing concept.