First response

  • Guaranteeing communication coverage in the event of disaster

    An EU-funded project that aims to develop a rapidly deployable wireless communication network for use in the aftermath of an emergency, disaster, or unexpected event, was commended recently at an international event.

  • Effective screening of airline passengers arriving from areas of infectious disease outbreaks

    New study shows that exit-screening at thirty-six airports would have assessed all air travelers at risk of transporting H1N1 out of Mexico at start of 2009 pandemic. Screening at 99 percent of the world’s international airports could have been forgone with negligible missed opportunities to prevent or delay the spread of disease. Screening at just eight airports worldwide would have led to the assessment of 90 percent of all at-risk air travelers.

  • Controlling contagion by restricting mobility

    In an epidemic or a bioterrorist attack, the response of government officials could range from a drastic restriction of mobility — imposed isolation or total lockdown of a city — to moderate travel restrictions in some areas or simple suggestions that people remain at home. Deciding to institute any measure would require officials to weigh the costs and benefits of action, but at present there is little data to guide them on the question of how disease spreads through transportation networks. A new MIT study shows that in the face of an epidemic, even moderate government-mandated travel restrictions would slow contagion.

  • Firefighting robot creates 3D images of burning buildings’ interiors for rescuers

    Researchers develop novel robotic scouts that can help firefighters to assist in residential and commercial blazes. The robots will map and photograph the interior of burning buildings by using stereo vision. Working together both collaboratively and autonomously, a number of such vehicles would quickly develop an accurate augmented virtual reality picture of the building interior. They would then provide it in near real time to rescuers, who could better assess the structure and plan their firefighting and rescue activities.

  • U.S. military trains to support civil authorities during domestic CBRN incident

    Vibrant Response 13-2 exercise, conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), is an annual event and is the country’s largest CBRN exercise. The training exercise is used to evaluate a military unit’s operational and tactical ability to support civil authorities during domestic incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons.

  • Largest annual homeland security exercise to star Monday in Indiana

    DHS will be conducting its largest training event of the year next week in Butlerville, Indiana. The event will involve 5,500 people from twenty-three states, and will start next Monday.

  • Quake Summit 2013: showcasing research on earthquakes, tsunamis

    Members of a national earthquake simulation research network next week will gather at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), for Quake Summit 2013, a scientific meeting highlighting research on mitigating the impact of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. Titled “Earthquake & Multi-Hazards Resilience: Progress and Challenges,” the annual summit of the 14-site George E. Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), will run from 6 August through 8 August at UNR’s Joseph Crowley Student Center.

  • Online tools accelerate progress in earthquake engineering, science

    A new study has found that on-line tools, access to experimental data, and other services provided through “cyberinfrastructure” are helping to accelerate progress in earthquake engineering and science. The cyberinfrastructure includes a centrally maintained, Web-based science gateway called NEEShub, which houses experimental results and makes them available for reuse by researchers, practitioners, and educational communities. NEEShub contains more than 1.6 million project files stored in more than 398,000 project directories and has been shown to have at least 65,000 users over the past year.

  • Simulations help in studying earthquake dampers for structures

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    Researchers have demonstrated the reliability and efficiency of “real-time hybrid simulation” for testing a type of powerful damping system that might be installed in buildings and bridges to reduce structural damage and injuries during earthquakes. The magnetorheological-fluid dampers are shock-absorbing devices containing a liquid that becomes far more viscous when a magnetic field is applied.

  • Hazmat Challenge tests skills of hazmat response teams from three states

    Twelve hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri, and Oklahoma will test their skills at the 17th annual Hazmat Challenge, which will be held 30 July through 2 August at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

  • Humanoid robot ready for DARPA’s Robotics Challenge trials

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    A Korean research institution joins with nine U.S. universities to enter the team’s DRC-HUBO, a humanoid robot, in DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). The competing robots will have to fulfill eight tasks at the competition, among them driving a utility vehicle, walking across rough terrain, climbing a ladder, and using hand tools.

  • Non-toxic fire retardants developed

    Fire retardants are often extremely harmful to health. Despite this, they are found in many types of synthetic materials which would otherwise ignite quickly. Researchers have now succeeded in producing non-harmful flame retardants.

  • New underwater robots mimic designs found in nature

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    In recent years, robotic underwater vehicles have become more common in a variety of industrial and civil sectors. Now, a new class of underwater robot has emerged that mimics designs found in nature. These “biomimetic” vehicles promise to lead to new underwater technologies that could help the oil and gas industry, underwater humanitarian demining, environmental monitoring, search and rescue operations, anti-terrorist activities, harbor surveillance, coastal security and fisheries management, and more.

  • Young engineers compete in underwater robotics race

    Student-built autonomous underwater vehicles will speed through the depths of a Navy pool in a battle for supremacy at the 16th International RoboSub Competition. The competition is being held this week (22-28 July). In addition to building autonomous underwater vehicles, teams are also responsible for creating Web sites and writing journal papers that outline their work.

  • Houston, Texas boasts world’s best lightning detection system

    With thousands of strikes each year, Houston is the lightning center of Texas and one of the world’s most lightning-prone areas. Studies show about 1,800 thunderstorms pound the Earth at any given moment, resulting in about fifty lightning strikes every second. The country’s best system to detect lightning strikes — located in and around the Houston area — just got better, thanks to a complete overhaul and new software.