Preventing terrorist attacks while they are already in motion is extremely difficult. Not only is it difficult to find an explosive on a person or in a bag but one also must face the need to do this in a very short time – seconds – and then immediately implement measures for countering the attack once a possible suspect or suspicious object has been found.
The LOTUS concept is aimed at detecting precursors over a wide urban area. The detectors may be placed at fixed positions although most detectors should be mobile. The size of today’s detectors makes placement suitable in vehicles such as a police or other law enforcement vehicles.
These distributed detectors continuously sample air while its carrier performs its daily work. The driver of the carrying vehicle does not need to operate the detector and in fact, should not even know if any threats are detected. When a suspicious substance is detected in elevated amounts, information about the type, location, amount and time is registered and sent to a data collection and evaluation centre for analysis.
Several indications in the same area will trigger an alert, enabling law enforcement agencies to further investigate and respond3.
The overall objective of the LOTUS project is to develop a new anti-terrorism tool for law enforcement agencies, in the form of an integrated surveillance system for continuous chemical background monitoring with fixed site and/or mobile detectors to identify “chemical hotspots” such as bomb or drug factories.
LOTUS has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement No 217925.