Wireless Buoys May Keep Waterways Safe

By Eric Beidel
The Coast Guard is looking into the idea of using a system of buoys outfitted with sensors to monitor threats in waterways.

The service has had preliminary discussions with Intellicheck Mobilisa, a Washington-based firm that has been working under a Navy contract to develop a security system using these floating bomb detectors. The buoys include sensors that can detect materials above, on or below the water’s surface, including chemicals used to make a bomb.

The concept began as a way to equip ships at sea with wireless Internet, officials said. The focus shifted to buoys that could detect biological, chemical and radioactive materials. Now the company has deployed buoys in the Potomac River outside Washington, D.C., and in Puget Sound near Olympia, Wash. They can be outfitted with sensors that capture both environmental and security data, which can then be sent to an operations center on shore for dissemination.

The system can measure water temperature, pH balance and turbidity. If any of the indicators is out of whack, it may suggest the presence of explosives in the water or a nearby boat, officials said.

In 2009, the Navy awarded Intellicheck Mobilisa a $4.5 million contract for the work. It has since provided additional funding to continue the project.

Topics: Bomb and Warhead, Homeland Security, MaritimePort Security, Science and Engineering Technology

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