State Dept. Wants To Map All Wireless Devices Within a 10-Foot Zone

Mark Van Scyoc/

The system could detect Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular devices operating in embassies, consulates and other State buildings.

The State Department wants to know which electronic devices are active near its facilities, and wants to use sensors embedded in the ceiling to find out.  

Wireless devices have "become a reality" in and around State Department facilities that house critical national security information, according to a new FedBizOpps posting

So, in an attempt to create an Internet of Things-style surveillance network, the department is gathering information about technology that could identify, geolocate, and log electronic devices within a 10-foot "designated zone of control," potentially detecting attempts to leech sensitive data.  

The "Wireless Intrusion Detection System" would map devices as they emit radio frequency signals in and around consulates, embassies and other foreign service posts, whose security is maintained by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. 

Ideally, one sensor could detect devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular networks, the posting said; the security team would mount these sensors in ceiling tiles, within containers with tamper sensors. The system should provide identifying information about the device, including MAC address, signal strength, connection status or whether it's transmitting information, and potential intrusions.

The surveillance zones could vary, spanning from "wooden structures" and "20-inch rebar-reinforced concrete walls," the posting said. The system might need to work in buildings where temperatures fluctuate depending on air conditioning systems, and in various geographic areas. 

"[S]ome work will be conducted in earthquake zones where buildings frequently tremor," according to the notice. 

The system should also be able to monitor itself, reporting back when sensors lose power, connectivity, or other failures, the posting said.