IT at work

Michael Albarelli, director of homeland security at the Army Communications-Electronics Command in Fort Monmouth, N.J., said Cecom brought five major technologies to the World Trade Center site that could be used in security operations:

* Hyperspectral flyovers — An aircraft equipped with cameras and infrared sensors was used to help first responders locate gas and water lines, subway tracks, streets and other landmarks. The sensors found two major underground fires, one that was close to a gasoline and Freon reserve and another that was approaching a ruptured sea wall.

* Classified signals intelligence equipment — This technology helped rescuers detect any distress calls that could have come from survivors trapped in the rubble.

* Laser Doppler vibrometer — This tool is normally used to search for land mines, but Cecom personnel made some modifications and used the vibrometers to monitor a potentially unstable building at the World Trade Center site.

* Uncooled infrared cameras — These cameras were mounted on 30-foot-long PVC pipes and sent into underground voids to look for body heat. Flexible extension poles provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency helped make the cameras, which were customized to do 360-degree sweeps, even more useful.

* Small robotic vehicles — These machines were deployed with forward-looking infrared sensors and sent into the rubble ahead of search and rescue workers to make sure there was "some stability there so [rescuers] were not in harm's way," Albarelli said.


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