Affordable Continuous Coverage of At-Risk Populations

The population of the United States is dispersed across a large landmass. People converge to great population densities at numerous venues for varying lengths of time (e.g., day/night workday cycles between cities and suburbs and special-event gatherings). Therefore, BioWatch must cover a large geographic area and varied indoor structures (e.g., special event centers, office buildings, transit centers, and underground rail systems). To achieve this in a sustainable manner the capital and annual operating costs of the system must be commensurate with the assessed relative risk from BW/BT and the myriad of other needs faced by local, state, and federal officials.

The current BioWatch system uses field aerosol concentration and sample collection, followed by the transport of samples back to a central laboratory and laboratory analysis of the samples. BioWatch data outputs are provided to a decision-making body for an integrated analysis prior to taking response actions. Major decreases in the resources required for BioWatch as well as improvements in the overall efficiency and effectiveness can be achieved through technical advances that provide for field in situ detection and identification (an autonomous deployed detector) to eliminate sample transport and laboratory analysis costs; amplification-free nucleic acid detection to decrease reagent costs; reagent-free detection to decrease reagent costs, eliminate the need for environmental engineering controls, and minimize the need for electrical power for the deployed autonomous detector; inexpensive analysis of agent recognition events within the autonomous detector to decrease sensor unit production cost and maintenance; and system modularity to minimize technology refresh costs.

Accuracy and Precision Supporting High-Regret Responses

Surveillance derives its value by informing response management systems that have the potential for eliminating or mitigating the impacts of risks. Response options vary in efficacy, cost, and associated negative consequences. There are also negative impacts associated with false-positive system outputs. Therefore, the accuracy and precision of the BioWatch system have a profound impact on overall system performance, value, and sustainability.

Operational experience with the current BioWatch system indicates a strong need for improved accuracy while maintaining robust precision.

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