The overall objective of the LOTUS project is to develop a new antiterrorism tool for law enforcement agencies, in the form of an integrated surveillance system for continuous chemical background monitoring with fixed site and/or mo-bile detectors to identify “chemical hotspots” such as bomb or drug factories.
The LOTUS project aims to create a system by which illicit production of explosives and drugs can be detected during the production stage rather than preventing terrorist at-tacks while they are already in motion, which is extremely difficult.
The LOTUS concept is aimed at detecting chemical signatures over a wide urban area. The detectors may be placed at fixed positions although most detectors should be mo-bile. These distributed detectors continuously sample air while its carrier performs its daily work. 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 respond.
Description of the work
The goal of LOTUS is to use an innovative approach to monitor illicit production of explosives and drugs, thus stopping terrorist attacks at an early stage and preventing produced drugs to get as far as the street.
A number of key components necessary to achieve the goal have been identified: knowledge of the threat and dispersion of threat substances, sensors for their detection, system communication, information management, testing & verification and a field demonstration.
Continuous communication with End Users is planned as well as a field demonstration at the end of the project.
The project aims at demonstrating system capability by the modification of existing sensors and sensors in development in order to detect selected precursors, and integrating the sensors in a networked system using existing technology. By using existing global infrastructures for positioning (GPS) and networking (GSM, GPRS or 3G) the LOTUS system can be used more or less anywhere in the world at relatively small cost for supporting installations and extra personnel. Special attention will be given to secure communication. In order to interpret and present the results it is also necessary to learn how chemicals around an illicit production site are dispersed by full scale measurements and modeling.
The threat of terrorist attacks is a very real concern for citizens in many parts of Europe. There is today no detection system that focuses on the production phase of explosives. A system like LOTUS would allow law enforcement agencies to become proac-tive, to act during a phase where there is low threat to citizens and thus prevent production during a time where alternative response actions can be exploited. The same system could also be used for combating organized crime by detection of drug production.
FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency
Dr. Sara Wallin
Tel: +46 8 5550 4097