Chemical-Biological-Radiation Hazard Assessment Calculator

Chemical-Biological-Radiation Hazard Assessment Calculator

During my internship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, I prototyped the Chemical-Biological-Radiation Hazard Assessment Calculator (CBR Calculator). The CBR Calculator gave first responders to a quick way to determine the threat to the population if a terrorist released a chemical, biological, or radioactive agent. Working with a connected GPS unit, the CBR Calculator takes in scenario information such as approximate size of plume, whether a liquid or gas is leaking from a container, wind direction, wind speed, and symptoms of victims to determine the type of agent released and plot its area of effect onto a map. The area of effect plots give the first responders an idea of what to expect, with red zones being fatal, yellow zones survivable, and green zones affected but clear.

Map Stitching Diagram

The CBR Calculator was written as a Palm OS 5 application that interfaced with an external GPS unit. My role was to build the prototype application from the ground up. The most difficult part of the application was dealing with the 64 kilobyte maximum addressable memory limit. This limitation made it impossible to load up a vector map of the current location, so I resorted to a pre-fetched map stitching scheme. The scheme essentially divided up the main screen into a 3 x 3 grid, but the actual map size was a 5 x 5 grid. When the user pans the map, new map location grids would be pre-fetched and loaded, while the section of the map being panned away from is unloaded.

In addition I also researched plume dispersion patterns and hazardous agent traits to create the state machine that determines the type of agent that was released. The plumes for the prototype were Gaussian distributions for simplicity, with the colored zones tied to average human toxicity concentrations for the presumed agent being released. This project was a lot of fun because it was working with cutting edge technology at the time and with the events of September 11 still fresh in our minds, I felt that this project could make a difference.

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