In 1994 the Northern Ireland Radiation Monitoring Group (NIRMG) investigated the feasibility of installing a network of gamma radiation monitoring stations within district councils in Northern Ireland. These unattended stations would be required to provide reliable regularly updated information about background gamma radiation and, in the event of an increase in background, would be required to provide an automatic comprehensive alert warning.
NIRMG decided to buy into the Argus system and installed a network of five outstations in Northern Ireland linked to a host computer based in Belfast.
In April 1996 the equipment was installed and made operational at the sites named below and a 24-hour communications procedure was established to provide notification of an alert from any outstation to a designated contact officer.
|Site of Outstation
|Belfast City Council
|Dunbar Street, Belfast
|Harbour Masterís Office, Portavogie
|Mountjoy Road, Omagh
|Sports Centre, Kilkeel
|Northern Group Systems
Argus Data Logging
In the original ARGUS installation each outstation had its own remote station management software allowing access to background gamma readings accumulated over successive ten-minute periods. The stations also transferred results to the host computer in Belfast by modem connection. Using a Windows-based software package, ADVENT, data accessed remotely by PC could be viewed for each outstation. Local data were downloaded into spreadsheet or as a graph plotting average readings at two hourly intervals in nanograys/hour. The host computer in Belfast also checked and maintained each outstation at all times, ensuring optimum reliability and data integrity.
A new much improved ARGUS system is now available which uses Internet. After 24 hours all data are available on the Internet through a standard browser. Parameters for alert levels may be updated by individual station owners, text messages sent to nominated phones and up-to-the-minute data may be viewed on a secure private website. The system is built with standard PC components and can be maintained by in-house IT personnel. Any software updates and improvements will be available from the Internet. Northern Ireland has almost completed the upgrade to three systems that now have meteorological probes providing weather data as well as a gamma detector. Omagh is soon to come on line, and Coleraine and Portavogie are expecting to upgrade shortly.