Workshop Proceeding

Strategies for Effective Improvements to the BioWatch System: Proceedings of a Workshop (2018)

BioWatch is the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) system for providing advanced warning of an aerosolized biological attack. This system uses collectors strategically positioned across the country to monitor the air for biological threats. As currently deployed, BioWatch collectors draw air through filters that field technicians collect and transport to public laboratories, where professional technicians analyze the material collected on the filter for evidence of biological threats. A positive result triggers a BioWatch Actionable Result (BAR), an indication that genetic material consistent with a target pathogen is present on a BioWatch filter. Upon declaration of a BAR, local, state, and federal officials assess relevant information and determine an appropriate course of action. To date, all BARs have been triggered by the detection of DNA from organisms that are naturally present in the environment.

Strategies for Effective Improvements to the BioWatch System - Proceedings of a Workshop explores the potential future systems and improvements that would meet requirements for BioWatch as a biological detection system for aerosolized agents. Systems identified need to be capable of being deployed by DHS by 2027, and enable dual-use with day-to-day environmental surveillance that serves value to the public health and medical community. However, early coordination of decisions for future improvements to BioWatch need to be made with the public health laboratories that perform the daily testing and monitoring.