The PJ Tatler

Figure Out How to Inspect Weapons Without Being There and Win a Cool Prize

The State Department has turned the delicate matter of arms control and weapons inspections into a cool contest with $10,000 in prizes.

The theme of the 2013 Innovation in Arms Control Challenge is “What Information Technology Tools and Concepts Can Support Future Arms Control Inspections?”

In other words, the U.S. wants to inspect arms without having to get on a plane and go somewhere.

“Imagine a future arms control treaty where equipment used for treaty activity can talk to one another to verify their locations, or where public environmental sensors are used in combination with official treaty data to boost treaty compliance confidence, or where inspectors can inspect without physically being at a site. How could such an inspection work? Is such an inspection technically possible?” the contest overview states.

“Today, we use arms control to help regulate weapons, or to increase transparency, predictability and stability in the international arena. Arms control inspections generally provide cooperative access under negotiated parameters to declared facilities to verify that activities, processes, materials and equipment at these sites are accurately reported or declared as required by a treaty or agreement. In the future, our current methods and capabilities may become obsolete or unable to alleviate concerns that evolve over time,” it continues. “To prepare, we would like to develop new inspection tools and processes that supplement or even replace current technical approaches dating back to the Cold War with modern methods that capture the potential of an era characterized by powerful mobile devices and easy information sharing. Solvers should explain what specific problem(s) their proposed technological solution addresses, how their proposed technological solution would enhance arms control inspections, and the utility of the proposed technology.”

The best part is you don’t even have to build anything to be eligible to win. It’s a “Theoretical Challenge” that requires only a written proposal to be submitted.

Only U.S. entities, citizens, and permanent residents are eligible to win a prize. The deadline is Oct. 20.