DARPA’s SIGMA+ Shields Major US City from CBRNE Threats

Enhancing Urban Safety with Advanced Threat Detection

DARPA’s innovative SIGMA+ program takes a significant leap in enhancing urban security. Recently concluding a pivotal three-week exercise with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, this initiative focuses on the detection of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) threats. This article delves into the program’s capabilities and its impact on safeguarding the largest metropolitan region in the United States.

“The partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on SIGMA and SIGMA+ has been critical to advancing state-of-art capabilities to detect and deter a full range of CBRNE threats,”

Mark Wrobel, Program Manager, DARPA.

Comprehensive CBRNE Monitoring

The SIGMA+ program integrates advanced sensors and network systems to offer continuous city-scale monitoring. It marks an evolution from the initial SIGMA focus on radiological and nuclear threats to a broader spectrum including chemical, biological, and explosive dangers.

Collaboration and Exercise Execution

A three-week capstone event, encompassing all 15 Port Authority commands, demonstrated the program’s operational readiness. This exercise included simulating threats to key infrastructure and populations, showcasing the effectiveness of the integrated technologies.

Technology Integration and Mobility

SIGMA+ sensors were embedded in a fleet of Port Authority vehicles, allowing mobile and dynamic threat monitoring across New York City and northern New Jersey. This mobile aspect is crucial for real-time situational awareness and threat tracking.

Turtle Timeline Concept Art
Turtle Timeline Concept Art
Stakeholder Engagement and Feedback

The exercise also served as a platform for federal and state homeland security stakeholders to assess the technology. Their insights will guide the final stages of the SIGMA+ program and its eventual operational deployment.

Future of SIGMA+ and Public Safety

The upcoming formal technology transition will see the integration of SIGMA+ capabilities into regular operations by the Port Authority and other stakeholders, enhancing long-term regional security against WMD threats.

  • Program: DARPA’s SIGMA+
  • Focus: CBRNE Threat Detection
  • Partnership Duration: 7 Years
  • Key Partners: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Technology Developers: Physical Sciences, Inc; Bayspec, Inc; Battelle; Two Six Labs
  • Operational Scope: City-to-Region Scale
  • Exercise Duration: 3 Weeks
  • Coverage Area: New York City and Northern New Jersey


DARPA’s SIGMA+ program is a paradigm shift in urban security. By leveraging advanced technology and collaborative exercises, SIGMA+ prepares to transition from a developmental phase to active operational use. This move represents a significant step forward in protecting urban populations from diverse threats, enhancing public safety in one of the nation’s largest metropolitan regions.


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