developed in Germany; unfortunately, the author of that computer system suddenly died and it is no longer available, but it should be pursued again.
Another helpful resource would be the implementation of an “e-freight” system for lab animal shipments. This would allow all documents required for a shipment of animals to be paperless and to be sent for preapproval to catch any errors that might halt or delay shipment or importation. It would also address the issue of losses in shipment. This sort of system is being worked out for other types of air cargo. IATA is very supportive, and if the scientific community were to do the same and worked with them in developing it, it would go a long way in reducing errors in shipment.
Another consideration is the development of government-supported, academic-based, and commercial nodes for streamlined movement of animals. This would require a lot of organization and would need a variety of alternatives. Some of this is already available on a commercial basis and by cooperation between repositories. Key issues here are funding and access. In addition, there must be allowances for protection of intellectual property and downstream liability for errors in the process.
Last, there is the cold chain process used for shipment of critical products and ingredients. This monitoring process involves looking at the temperature and other environmental conditions of materials as they move through the transport system. Much of the information about transportation failures, especially with ground transportation, is anecdotal. An effort to proactively track environmental conditions and to work with transporters could be very helpful. This may be done with devices like the TurboTag, which will do 700 interval recordings of temperature and can be disinfected and reused. It is read with an RFID (radio frequency identification) reader and the readings are downloaded into an electronic record. Each TurboTag costs about $20; the reader is about $75. We have started putting them throughout shipments to look at airflows and temperature mapping. They will help us to get a better understanding of where failures are and how we can prevent them.