An industry consortium that has been fostering cooperation among and between millimeter wave and terahertz sensor equipment and component suppliers and government agencies in the U.S., Europe and Canada is set to release its first test protocol document that ultimately will help industry better understand their customers’ requirements and at the same time let government agencies know whether various sensors and imaging equipment may or may not meet their needs.

“The idea was to come up with a set of requirements and a set of tests that the group of people that put this document together felt would allow…if everybody used the same test protocol, then the agencies that looked at the test results could compare apples to apples,” Don Brown, director and founder of the International Wireless Industry Consortium (IWPC) tells TR2.

The IWPC Millimeter Wave Security Sensor Test Protocol Document, formerly called the Benchmarking Document, is awaiting one small piece of information before being released shortly, Brown says. He says a group of several dozen companies and government agencies spent the past nine or so months creating the document that will help the “equipment companies and agencies communicate to compare test results from one set of equipment to another.”

According to Brown, this is a first in the millimeter wave area.

“That’s a really big deal,” he says. “It’s never been done before to my knowledge…in this particular space.”

Brown points out that the test protocol document is not a formal standard, which could take several years to create. Rather it’s an informal protocol, which could someday be the foundation for a formal standard, that the group was able to get out relatively quickly, he says.

The initial version of the test protocol will be released in the coming weeks for review at the next IWPC workshop, which will be hosted by the French Atomic Energy Commission in early October. That workshop will focus on applications of millimeter wave and terahertz sensors for critical infrastructure and mass transportation markets.

In addition to having participants review and comment on the test protocol, there will be a slew of panels, including a road mapping session where DHS will outline its vision, which will allow industry to suggest then where the agency needs to make investments. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate will update of its Standoff Technology Integration and Demonstration Program, Brown says.

There will also be sessions by the systems manufacturers about the equipment and technologies they have to meet customer needs and by the component suppliers letting everyone know what their capabilities and needs are.

It all fits in to the IWPC’s goal of aiding communications up and down the supply chain in the millimeter wave and terahertz sensor space, says Brown.

Additionally, the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), which focuses on the safety and efficiency of the European air transport system, will be at the October conference.

The ECAC has developed its own benchmarking document for airports, Brown says. The IWPC has been working with them and providing input on what they might include in their test document, he says. The meeting will also give the IWPC and attendees a chance to get updated on where the ECAC stands with its project, he adds.

The last workshop that the IWPC put together was in April and was hosted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) in Atlantic City, N.J. The focus of that meeting was airport security. Brown says the goal is to have workshops every six to nine months, some of which may be the subject of previous topics such as airport security or new ones such as commercial security uses of millimeter wave and terahertz sensor technology.

Brown says one of the lessons learned at the TSL meeting is that the technology is not the end all but just part of the overall concept of operations that includes personnel, training and a layered approach to security.