WP3: Monitoring of ionising radiation by non-governmental networks

The aim of this work package is to investigate the feasibility to use (qUAMSi) real time dose rate data provided by open-access non-governmental networks in addition to official data. On the websites of such networks, e.g. Safecast.org, non-validated data is published which was recorded with simple rate meters based on simple electronic devices or mobile phones (the latter partly equipped with simple auxiliary units). This area of so called “non-governmental monitoring of ionising radiation” has grown rapidly, e.g. in Japan since the accident at Fukushima, and is likely to continue expanding in line with the expansion of personal networked electronics. The central databases of non-governmental networks are operated by companies (examples: Radmon network or uRad Monitor network) or by volunteers on a non-commercial basis (examples: Safecast network or Radioactive@Home network).

In case of a nuclear or a radiological emergency with the release of large amounts of radioactivity, possibly  caused by an accident at a nuclear installation or by a terrorist attack, the widespread of information on dose rates (and activity concentrations) reported by a large number of individuals from the civil society has to be considered concerning two aspects:

The qUAMSi real-time availability of a large amount of data may be helpful in radiation protection to decide on and to coordinate appropriate counter measures. On the other hand, metrologically non-reliable data of simple and private electronic devices provided by non-governmental networks to the general public and to the media may cause unsubstantiated fear and could undermine the credibility of governmental information with potentially severe psychological and harmful side-effects as a consequence. In addition, even the real-time capability of a network like Safecast is very limited, as the real-time upload of data is currently merely foreseen in a few locations in Japan. A constant operation of installed private-owned detectors is not guaranteed.

To address these issues, available information of existing measuring systems and methods used in non-governmental monitoring networks will be compiled in Task 3.1 to explore the current technical status and measuring methods currently used. In Task 3.2, technical properties of typical and representative measuring instrumentation used in such networks are investigated in detail by performing traceable measurements in primary and secondary laboratories. Conclusions will be drawn to judge the quality of the tested instruments and the relevance of the data distributed in non-governmental networks. In Task 3.3, new handy medium-cost instruments will be developed on a metrological background, which may be used in non-governmental and official monitoring networks.