The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee to organize and plan a public workshop that will explore alternative effective systems that would meet requirements for BioWatch as a biological detection system for aerosolized agents. Systems identified need to be capable of being deployed by the Department of Homeland Security by 2027, and enable dual use with day-to-day environmental surveillance that would be of value to the public health and medical community.
Specifically the ad hoc committee will develop the agenda for the workshop and identify and invite speakers and discussants to address the following questions:
- What new technologies (current and emerging within the next 10 years) are compatible with the existing architecture of the BioWatch detection system for aerosolized agents and would significantly improve current performance, particularly with respect to time, sensitivity, specificity, range of agents, indoor applications, autonomy, quality of confirmatory response, and/or cost?
- Are there specific considerations for indoor surveillance?
- What new technologies (current and emerging within the next 10 years)–that are ideally compatible with the existing BioWatch architecture–would enable detection of common public health threats (e.g., novel or known viruses, harmful volatile gases, etc.), as well as threat agents identified by intelligence assessments?
- Given the current state of technology for biological detection systems, how might technologies evolve and advance by 2027 so that one or more could serve as an alternative to the currently deployed polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based system?
- In addition are there other technologies that may be available to use to supplement or modify the current PCR system to enable greater flexibility of the detection system and provide a bridge to future detection solutions?
The committee may commission white papers to help inform discussions at the workshop related to the aforementioned questions. The papers will be made available to workshop participants at the event or in advance. An individually authored summary of the presentations and discussions at the workshop will be prepared by a designated rapporteur in accordance with institutional guidelines.