FIGURE 1.1 Notional time line for an anthrax attack showing the different detection regimes and requirements corresponding to different portions of the biological event. Detect-to-warn systems must respond in sufficient time to allow protective measures to prevent or minimize exposure of a significant portion of the at-risk population. Thus, detect-to-warn time lines can be on the order of hours for cities but only a few minutes or less for facilities.

agents as a priority, including the deployment of unobtrusive detect-to-warn sensor systems in key locations such as subways, airports, arenas, and military and government installations.

Accordingly, DTRA gave the committee four tasks:

  1. Review the DTRA-specified requirements3 for detect-to-warn systems. Identify those requirements that will especially drive the detection concepts and architectures—for example, less than 1 minute detection times and continuous operations, with attendant implications for consumables and their costs—and understand to what extent, if any, these or related parameters, such as detection sensitivities, may be relaxed.

  2. Consider examples of representative operational scenarios or architectures (to be provided by DTRA), which will be invaluable in putting these system requirements and trade-offs in context.

  3. Identify specific sensor and sampling technologies that have the potential to satisfy system requirements, assess their state of development, and prepare a roadmap for further development to demonstrate required performance. If necessary, suggest temporary modifications to system specifications for interim development by FY2010 and fielding of best available technologies.

  4. To the extent that the maturity of the above sensor and sampling technologies allows, identify critical materials, manufacturing technologies, and system design issues required to fabricate, validate, deploy, and support these sensor systems in diverse environments and enable the systems to meet requirements for low false alarm rates, low cost, compact size, light weight, low maintenance, and low power. The committee will also assess the current state of development of key enabling technologies and identify strategies and associated time lines for addressing major deficiencies.


The principal requirements are a 1-minute or less response time, capacity for continuous operation, high sensitivity, low false alarm rate, low cost, and maintainability. There are often trade-offs to be made among these requirements/characteristics.

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