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Background

Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP) pose a real and critical danger to the life and infrastructure of the world. These radio bursts can be either natural – as in the case of some solar flares, or human-made – as in the case of the detonation of nuclear weapons, or discharge of other human-made devices.

There have been multiple occurrences of large-scale solar storms throughout modern history. Nuclear weapons exist throughout the world. EMP generating devices may be manufactured or purchased. With the increasing reliance of the modern world on electronic and electrically-based technologies, the potential socioeconomic impact of these types of events has grown.

To frame the challenge we provide two possible scenarios.

Scenario #1

A massive solar event has occurred, destroying or disabling, the majority of the electrical-based systems throughout the world. While European and US space agencies were able to provide a warning that an event was about to occur, the severity of the event was beyond that of anything previously recorded. 

Government agencies, particularly the militaries, were able to shut down critical systems, saving about half of them. Operators of power grids were able to shut down some systems, but still suffered extensive losses in power generation, control and transmission capabilities. Globally, the remaining civilian agencies, commercial enterprises, and non-profits have fared worse, with almost total loss of any electrical-based systems and electronics which were powered on at the time of the event.

All satellite systems were disabled by the event, leading to a loss of global positioning and communications transmission capability.

Scenario #2

Human-made EMP events have simultaneously occurred in three medium-sized cities, located across Europe. The effective radius of the events were 100 miles from the center of each city. A message was posted in social media saying there would be more attacks, but not providing any reasons or demands.

No systems were shut down in anticipation of EMP, leading to massive loss of all electronics and power delivery systems within the affected areas. 

Other critical infrastructure elements such as 

  • communication, 
  • water and food,
  • and fuel delivery are out of commission. 

Approximately 75% of vehicles in the affected area are now inoperable.

Challenge

The NATO Innovation Challenge addresses the effects of Electromagnetic Pulse, natural or human-made, of large or localized scale. It is looking for solutions to

  • Prevent damage caused to assets and vehicles of first responders and military personnel; or
  • Mitigate the effects of the event on critical infrastructure and capabilities; or
  • Rapidly Recover capabilities lost as a result of such an event.
  • Improve society Resilience. Read more

Concepts and prototypes of Organizational and/or Technological, solutions are welcome.