Where are they now?
The unmarked, plain-sided, 18-wheeled tractor-trailer crawled through city traffic, its driver unaware of two black, dark-windowed SUVs tailing it.
The portable radio on the tractor’s seat squawked with the buzz of everyday noise and traffic.
“Everything quiet?” the speaker crackled. “10-4. It is. Ten miles to destination,” acknowledged the passenger. “Arrival in 15 minutes.”
In the trailer, its cargo, one of the most hazardous agents known to man -VX nerve gas – had been loaded into 55-gallon barrels; 11,000 gallons shipped anonymously. Manned only by the driver and one well-armed passenger, a guard, the transporter headed for the munitions base just on the outskirts of the city. The deadly cargo, scheduled for disposal there, would be burned in the compound’s incinerators.
Near the sparse industrial area outside the city, the tractor-trailer topped a small hill. Ahead, sprawled across both lanes of traffic, a pick-up truck lay overturned and a damaged auto sat idling on the shoulder. In the middle of the road, two men argued as a third man, his face bloody, held a cellular phone to his ear, and a fourth man lay on the ground, apparently unconscious as a result of the accident.
The tractor-trailer came to a halt close to the accident, and the guard grabbed the portable radio from the seat, opened the door and swung down from the cab to render aid. Seconds after he approached the crashed truck, the two black SUVs that followed pulled directly behind the trailer and stopped, effectively canceling any room for the truck driver to back up or high-tail it from the scene.
Eight men, carrying Uzi’s, hurriedly exited the SUVs and descended on the tractor-trailer. The four men involved in the accident dropped their pretense, brandished their weapons, seized the man who was going to help them and approached the tractor-trailer.
The truck driver gunned the engine to leave the scene. The side windows were shot out, and he was ordered from the cab. Stalling, he opened the door slowly, allowing enough time to step on an emergency alert foot-pedal attached to the floor. The emergency system sent an immediate GPS signal to its base station indicating help was needed.
A loud, flashing alert, picked up by the base station, displayed a map pinpointing the exact location of the truck. Law enforcement agencies were informed of a “hijacking in progress” and sent a SWAT team. Soldiers of the military installation, just miles away, received the alert and responded.
A vicious firefight ensued, and the terrorists were subdued before they could escape with the truck and its deadly contents. Neither the passenger nor the driver, who credited the newly installed alert system for saving them, was hurt.
Hypothetical? In today’s terrorist-prone world – definitely not.
With current technology, such a situation can be rectified at, literally, a moment’s notice.
A specially designed miniature GPS module (2″ × 2 ½” × 1″) can be plugged into any hand-held radio or walkie-talkie, allowing the base station to track one person, a mobile truck, fire engine, police or military unit with clarity and pinpoint accuracy. One such system, RadioTrac, is among the world’s smallest and least expensive tracking devices.
A “base station” may sound like a large piece of equipment, but in this case, the base station is only 6.62″ × 4.0″ × 0.90″ and easily portable. It can be set up anywhere.
Integrating the latest GPS technology with patented encoding and decoding techniques, mapping software, an advanced 12-channel GPS with a patch antenna and a receiver with a high-speed modem and microcomputer, this system can be used in fleets of school buses or a shift of forest fire fighters, in a military exercise or a transportation company. Knowing the exact location of your personnel helps keep them safe and, possibly, alive.
The tracking system uses existing mobile or hand-held two-way radio systems. The manufacturer claims that it is the only technology available that can interface on any walkie-talkie, made by any manufacturer, operating on any frequency.
RadioTrac’s parent company, Waltham, Mass.-based CyTerra, has handled projects for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Customs Service to develop technology to detect bombs and metal and plastic land mines. It has developed low-cost, low-power airport perimeter detection radar; automated explosive detection luggage check systems and biological and chemical weapons detections systems.
CyTerra employs engineers and scientists trained in physics, chemistry, ultra-trace detection, thermodynamics, RF design, radar, electronics, software and material science.
The RadioTrac system is turnkey and includes all hardware and mapping software. No monthly fees or “ping” fees accrue, as compared with traditional cellular-based AVL systems.
RadioTrac GPS Module
Receiver: LI, C/A Code (1575 Mhz)
Sensitivity: -175 dBW
Position Accuracy: 25 meters
RadioTrac Base Station
Size: 6.62 × 4.0 × 0.90 inches
Weight: 3.0 oz
Power: 12.0 VDC
Current Drain: 120 mA nominal
Operating Temp.: -22 degrees F to 170 degrees F
Computer System Requirements
Pentium processor or better
700 MB available disk space
Super VGA monitor (with the screen resolution set to at least 1024 × 768)
Windows 95, 98, 2000
Specifications subject to change without notice