Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jakarta Blast, E Nose & Obama’s Stimulus Plan

I was surprised to hear about Jakarta Blasts in Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotel the other day.

The first time I visited Jakarta was in Feb 2008. Since then I have been visiting Jakarta every alternate month. I was surprised to see airport like strict security checks in all 5 star hotels. Every time one enters or moves out of the hotel, one has to go through metal detector gates, frisking and bag checks etc etc. What the hell, I thought…My Indonesia colleague told me that Indonesia has terrorist attacks in the past and the targets are often 5 star hotels where foreigners stay, hence this airport like security in these hotels.

During my visit last month, I visited Marriott and Ritz Carlton for meetings. Security there was much tighter than any other 5 star hotel in town. But in spite of such tight security, a terrorist attack in form of blast took place. This reminds us that even of the tightest securities can be breached.

However, the situation was in control within short time, an unexplored bomb was detected, control room was found out and the terrorist weren’t allowed the free hand like the one that was witnessed in Mumbai Terrorist attack in Nov 2008.

Preparedness cannot all together prevent these incidents but can help to minimize the impact: the difference between Mumbai and Jakarta attack.

I wrote in my earlier article that scenario planning can help in prevention of Mumbai like terrorist act.

That is not applicable to situation as was in Jakarta because they were following most of the scenarios mentioned in the above post.

Are there any technology solutions which can be useful in further minimizing the chance and impact of such terrorist attacks??

The answer is Yes, one such solution being Electric Nose (E Nose) solution.

E Nose is like an artificial nose which can help disabled people (who lost sense of smell) to generate smell stimulus and direct it to the brain. It is in early stage of development. This concept can be enhanced to develop artificial smell detectors that will be able to detect almost all types of smells that human nose can detect.
Humans cannot detect explosive material by nose. So this technology can further be developed to augment human sensing capability with addition of animals smell sensing capability such as smell sensing capability of sniffer dogs. This thus can be used to detect explosives smell and detect its transportation, storage and usages.

If these smell detectors will be placed in hotels and other sensitive and random places, explosives will be much easier to detect.

So why such fantastic solutions so much needed today are not coming up? Necessity is the mother of invention and demand of E nose for medical purpose is lying at the backseat as it is not necessity when compared to other pressing health needs of eyes, ears, brain, heart, organ transplantation, gene therapy , cancer, AIDS, diabetes etc..

Thus, a technology push and stimulus plan focusing on E Nose can help in accelerating its development but this doesn’t looks like a priority of the moment…

If some fraction of Obama's Stimulus Plan can be put to accelerate development of such technologies, these solutions can be employed for safety of the common man. But current focus is on being Green. Hmmm a question of the moment pops up here: If the choice is between Green and Grenade Free, what will you choose?