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PROTECT: Enhanced Technology to Protect Against Chemical and Biological Terrorism

Argonne National Laboratory

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	<i><span style="color: windowtext; font-family: &quot;Franklin Gothic Medium&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;; font-size: 8pt; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Franklin Gothic Medium&quot;;">PROTECT emergency responder interface screen showing hazard plume.<o:p></o:p></span></i></p>

PROTECT emergency responder interface screen showing hazard plume.

Technology Marketing Summary

Ever since the 1995 sarin attack in a Tokyo subway, authorities have recognized that large interior structures are vulnerable to chemical and biological attack. Particularly at risk are venues like subways, airports and government office buildings, where people are concentrated in small areas and quick evacuation is difficult; or enclosed buildings such as convention centers or arenas, where the threat may be high when the facility is occupied. In all cases, early detection and rapid response are essential to ensure crowd safety and the saving of lives.

Proper preplanning, along with advanced technology, can provide facility management with an early warning to apply emergency management tools and protocols. As a result, hundreds of lives can be saved in a chemical agent incident and thousands of lives in a biological incident.


Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have created an automated hardware/software system to improve the detection of and reaction to complex terrorist attacks involving chemical agents. The system, called PROTECT (Program for Response Options and Technology Enhancements for Chemical/Biological Terrorism), integrates chemical detectors, closed-circuit TV, dispersion modeling and optimal response protocols

PROTECT provides accurate, early detection and verification of a terrorist threat involving a chemical or biological agent in confined spaces within densely populated areas, such as in city buildings and urban transit systems. Alarm and response management capabilities assist infrastructure operators and first responders by pinpointing agent release areas and projected dispersion zones and then recommending appropriate, predetermined response scenarios.


  • Automated surveillance and alarm.  Eliminates the need for continuous operator supervision
  • Customizability.  For optimal detection in dense urban infrastructures
  • Rapid detection.  Quickly pinpoints release areas and projected dispersion zones for faster response and containment. During a demonstration at a major metropolitan subway station, PROTECT reduced overall response time from 31 minutes to 5 minutes.
  • Accuracy. Low false-positive rate backed by closed-circuit television for fast verification
  • Compatibility. Can be used with many detector types
Applications and Industries

PROTECT can be used in both permanent and temporary installations.


  • Mass transit subway/pedway tunnels
  • Single- or multimodal transportation facilities (such as airports, train stations and bus terminals)
  • Lower-level entrances and concourses
  • High-value buildings and event facilities


  • High-threat events
  • Remote locations
More Information

The PROTECT system has been successfully demonstrated in major U.S. metropolitan transit systems and is now being used in other venues. The system’s surveillance components have also proven useful in responding to non-terrorist incidents involving fire, smoke, unknown substances and a wide range of criminal activities.

This technology has been exclusively licensed to Smiths Detection. 

Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
Exclusively LicensedLicensed07/16/201307/16/2013

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To: Elizabeth Jordan<>