SPIRIT: Software to protect buildings against attacks

Software helping to protect buildings against attacks

Terrorist attacks with explosives or chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents are fortunately few and far between. But when they do happen, they can have disastrous effects. A new software program from TNO protects buildings against these ‘CBRNE’ attacks.

The software is aimed at architects who design buildings for government organisations and corporations with high security requirements, for example. At lightning speed, the software analyses an outline drawing and indicates which architectural adjustments can be made to provide protection against CBRNE attacks. The system works for new and existing concrete buildings. "Of course you can’t avoid damage to buildings,” says Ans van Doormaal, a researcher at TNO. "But you can take measures to limit that damage and to offer people much better protection."

 Architectural measures

"Designing buildings is a complex activity at the best of times, and even more so if you want to apply CBRNE security. Because of that complexity, we find that people don’t understand what actually needs to be done architecturally to deal with such attacks. With this software, we make all these things transparent." The software presents different options ? for example, adjustments to the walls or the layout of the building. Van Doormaal: "You can strengthen walls with fibre materials to make sure that no debris tumbles down and injures people. Or you can use high-strength concrete as protection against explosions. Needless to say, you want to situate vulnerable spaces at specific locations in your building. And you want to install filters. For example, if CBRN agents are released in the mailroom, it shouldn’t be possible for them to spread throughout the building. By displaying all the critical locations, we literally give people insight into the measures that need to be taken."


 CBRE analysis methods

The software includes complicated analytical methods developed by TNO and partners* in the field of explosives, for example. Based on predicted scenarios and different bomb types, the software plainly shows the effect of an attack and the possible countermeasures. The same applies to chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) agents. "The difficult thing here is that there are so many possible scenarios and agents. That’s why we carried out such extensive research. And we incorporated the results of our research into the program, which means that the software also supplies representational recommendations for CBR." Besides the recommendations, the software presents actual products that can be used to strengthen buildings. "This total package makes it possible for design teams to focus on design issues related to CBRE, discuss possible measures and take effective decisions."

* Partners: Fraunhofer, CEA, Schüßler Plan, Arup, Royal HaskoningDHV, Hamilton & Erskin, Ducon, Artemis Control and Ionicon

Building Information Model

The software forms the final stage of an EU development programme called Safety and Protection of built Infrastructure to Resist Integral Threats (Spirit), which is part of the FP7 programme. At the end of the summer, the software will be tested in the field as part of a new building design for the Dutch government. It will also be used in a new EU project that goes by the name of Dessire. Research will be conducted to find out whether the TNO software can be linked to Building Information Model software. Using this design software, it will then be possible to directly connect with TNO’s Spirit software. Lastly, based on all the studies carried out, TNO will make recommendations to various standardisation institutes. These can be used to further improve standards and requirements for buildings.

[Source of article]


Mrs. J.C.A.M. (Ans) van Doormaal, MSc
+31 88 866 12 49



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