The events that took place last week in Boston were tragic for both the victims and their families, traumatic for everyone who saw the bombing either live or on television, and dramatic to watch as the clues unfolded leading to the death of one terrorist brother and the capture of the other. What is absolutely incredible is the speed with which the entire event took place (from the time of the bombing to the capture took just five days), I don’t think that timeline would have been possible even a short ten years ago.
In reality what we witnessed, the bombing, the identification of the terrorists, and the capture, actually took more than fifty years to accomplish. The date was January 31, 1958, the place Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the event was the launch of the first U.S. satellite Explorer I four months after Russia orbited Sputnik. The 18-pound satellite had a cylindrical shape, was 80 inches long, six inches in diameter and its small package of instruments were made possible by the discovery of transistor circuitry; primitive by today’s standards but a very important step towards the miniaturization of electronic components and essential to space exploration.
Over the years and decades, transistors gave way to printed circuit boards and the development of computer chips that have become progressively smaller in size with quantum leaps in the amount of processing power. It is this technology –developed to explore the far reaches of space that has changed our everyday lives. Today, digital technology is all around us. We take photos and access the internet from our phone, send and receive text messages at the speed of light and communicate with people from around the world, both socially and in business. It is also this micro-technology that has made property surveillance cameras affordable for both residences and businesses, and it was one of these cameras that enabled the FBI to review the activities of the bomb site prior to the time the bombs were detonated and helplessly watch as the terrorists, emotionlessly placed their hidden bombs among the thousands of people who had gathered to watch and cheer the runners as they completed their marathon. But sadly, it was also these same digital technologies that allowed the terrorists to arm and detonate their bombs using cell phone triggering devices.
Ironically, it was this same cell phone technology that would also be the undoing of these fugitive terrorists. On Thursday night the terrorists ambushed and killed a MIT police officer and then carjacked a vehicle with the owner inside. After being forced to withdraw at least $800 from an ATM, the car owner managed his escape but left his cell phone behind in the vehicle. The police used that cell phone to track down the stolen car and the terrorists.
While technology played a huge roll in this case, equally important was the men and women of the law enforcement teams, experts in criminal behavior, that painstakingly reviewed a random jumble of photographs from thousands of different cell phones and cameras. The goal was to construct a timeline of images, following possible suspects as they moved along the sidewalks. One agent reportedly watched the same segment of video 400 times. However, simultaneous to the police investigation, citizens joined forces on social media sites to also examine crowd pictures, and then virally distributing images of what turned out to be innocent people, complicating the official investigation.
Fortunately for us, there are many more good people in the world then there are bad guys and as technology continues to advance it will hopefully be put to use for the betterment of mankind, and perhaps make our lives easier.
At Nevada By Design, we are staying on top of technological advancements by updating our Computer Aided Design (CAD), software to AutoCad 3D. This new software allows our engineers to better display underground utilities and visualize conflicts during their design.
In addition, we have acquired AutoTURN Pro 3D CAD software that simulates 3D vehicle turning maneuvers while accounting for the effects of different terrain, obstacles, and vehicle parameters. This software is great for projecting the turning radius of large vehicles and we are currently using it for the design of a fire station.
Perhaps future advances in technology will help us to prevent future tragedies like Boston and the chemical explosion in West, Texas.