ICx Unveils SafeAir Biodetection System

LAS VEGAS--ICx Technologies last month unveiled a new biodetection system it is developing that combines several existing systems into a more capable product for monitoring and protecting buildings and facilities from biological threats.

Called SafeAir, the new system integrates ICx' Air Sentinel indoor air monitor, Cepheid's [CPHD] GeneXpert, and ICx' air sampler called BioXC, to alarm for, and identify, potential threats. ICx displayed SafeAir at the recent ASIS International 2007 conference here.

ICx has several pilot projects underway with SafeAir, including one in a federal facility, another in a corporate financial institution and third in critical infrastructure owned by a city, Charles Call, CEO of ICx' Mesosystems business unit, tells TR2. The particular city wants a turnkey solution that is integrated with the local response community and the local health department, he says.

The goals of the pilot projects include vetting the technology, developing the training programs, and validating the concepts for how the system should be operated, Call says. Once this is completed the company plans to apply SafeAir for SAFETY Act certification and market the system commercially, he says.

With SafeAir "We're trying to create the market," Call says. The market may not need to wait for the Department of Homeland Security to create standards for these systems, he says. There are some people who want "something affordable that works," he adds.

Air Sentinel is basically a biological "smoke alarm." It warns that something hazardous could be in the air but doesn't identify the possible threat. GeneXpert is the identification piece of SafeAir. It can identify threats to the species level within 40 minutes. GeneXpert is a key part of the Biohazard Detection Systems supplied by Northrop Grumman [NOC] to warn of possible anthrax threats at the nation's mail handling facilities.

In SafeAir's operating mode, an alarm given off by an Air Sentinel, which then triggers BioXC to collect an air sample. That air sample is integrated with a disposable cartridge that can then be manually inserted in to the GeneXpert module to test for the presence of anthrax. Cepheid has also developed a cartridge that can test for anthrax, plague and tularemia simultaneously. There would only need to be one GeneXpert system in a building, Call says.

SafeAir provides automatic alarms of a possible threat event and can be tied into command and control systems.

More Introductions

At ASIS ICx also introduced and unveiled several other products including a new sensor integration framework called CohesionIF. The system allows new sensors to be integrated with existing security and technology systems and infrastructure.

The company also introduced an interesting radiation monitoring concept called stanchionSPEC, which basically integrates a radiation detection device into standard crowd control stanchion's typically seen at checkpoint security lines and other venues.

The stanchionSPEC can identify specific isotopes and can discriminate between medical or normal isotopes. The system could be used for dirty bomb detection while individuals are moving through lines that are defined by the placement of stanchions. ICx has produced prototypes of the monitor. Alarms can be transmitted over a wireless Ethernet.

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