Utilities company to use radar to map WTC site
NEW YORK (CNN) -- To help speed the recovery of Lower Manhattan from the September 11 terrorist attack, New York utility giant Con Edison will use radar imaging to map underground gas mains, sewers, electric and water pipes around the site of the World Trade Center.
The new use for this technology will allow workers to locate damaged utilities without digging and know what's underground when they must dig.
"We're very careful about where we dig. We want to know where everything is," said Joe Carbonara of Con Edison's research and development department. "This helps us to plan precisely where to dig, and digging is very costly in Manhattan."
The technology itself is not new.
"It's quite close to satellite radar imaging. In fact, the technology it's closest to is medical ultrasound," said Mike Oristaglio, chief scientist with Witten Technologies Inc. in Washington, developers of the software for the system.
The technology is called CART, or Computer Aided Radar Tomography. It can also be used to find toxic waste tanks, tunnels and large land mines.
The system consists of a 6-foot-wide wheeled device gliding just off the ground behind a truck. There are nine bowtie-shaped antennas that transmit the radar below ground and eight that receive the radar when it bounces off such objects as pipes, concrete and stones.
The depth the system can reach depends on the soil content. It's able to reach four to six feet in New York City, according to Oristaglio. Images are made in layers of 1-inch increments and displayed in three dimensions. Oristaglio said about three or four city blocks could be mapped per day. The extent of the project hasn't been decided.
Some test scans done in August will allow researchers to do a "before and after" comparison. Some preliminary mapping was done last week and continues in what is considered a testing phase for the technology.
The Swedish company Mala GeoScience helped develop the device. The company and the Swedish government are donating use of the technology to New York as a response to September 11.
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