Developed by Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, the lab’s spokesman Michael Padilla said this software application is available for both mobile and traditional computing devices to swiftly assess the situation to keep the public and environment safe.
In photo above (taken by Dino Vournas), Sandia researchers (from left) Ethan Chan, Alf Morales and software developer and physicist Will Johnson demonstrate how InterSpec is used in the field.
Johnson said InterSpec updates, strengthens and integrates many radiation analysis tools and resources into a single application that is seamless and intuitive to use.
“InterSpec allows decision-makers to rapidly identify both radioisotopes and shielding materials around the source,” Johnson said. “InterSpec is also a valuable tool for laboratories and other academic and industrial settings where an accurate understanding of detected radiological material is crucial.”
For the past four years, Sandia researchers have been making InterSpec easy to use in any situation by anyone who works with radioactive material. It was created for people who have some radiation knowledge but aren’t experts. In many situations, radiation experts are not immediately available to assist law enforcement personnel and emergency responders. Using InterSpec, even people with limited analysis experience can obtain the detailed radiation information they need to make quick decisions.
“You can take the radiation data from any detector, and InterSpec will identify the radiation source, describe its shielding and calculate the radiation dose,” Walsh said. “InterSpec will also tell you if it’s dangerous for you to be around this source. The tool is amazing.”
Unlike radiation-analysis software packages that are limited to Windows systems, InterSpec runs on multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, iOS and Android, and on all web browsers.
The wide range of platforms means users in different settings can quickly exchange data and share a unified view of the data. Furthermore, InterSpec works in isolated or shielded environments with no network connectivity needed.
“We’ve made InterSpec as easy as possible to use,” Chan said. “You don’t have to spend two or three years to learn the tool. InterSpec is really simple, both in how it looks and how you use it.”
InterSpec features include work tracking, the ability to view and edit metadata and automatic saving of spectrum files. The spectrum files include location-embedded metadata for visualization on a map, so users can select a geographical region of measurements.
First-time users can access InterSpec’s help system and tool tips that describe each button’s function. In addition, intuitive icons enable users to move around the app quickly.
Johnson serves on a Department of Energy team that identifies types of radiation found throughout the country. This includes federal and state inspectors who are analyzing flooded chemical plans and waste sites in Huston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
“The goal of the team is to figure out if detected radiation is a threat or not,” he explained. “InterSpec helps determine if an item is a potential threat, and if so, what kind.”
Johnson said InterSpec has helped the team respond to events in the field. “The ability to analyze data before reaching a traditional computer or in situations where only a phone or tablet could be taken has proven extremely useful.”
InterSpec can be used to help determine the source including type, strength and shielding inside sealed boxes or cargo containers.
Padilla said the Sandia team is working to make InterSpec available to people who conduct radiation measurement analysis so they can benefit from the improved workflows, capabilities and time savings of InterSpec.