Published On: Tue, Jul 20th, 2021

Failure to Upgrade Biosurveillance Tech Limits Ability to Detect Biological Attacks, House Panel Told

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The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) failure to upgrade biosurveillance technology has limited its ability to detect potential airborne biological attacks, the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery heard on July 16. The subcommittee hearing came on the heels of two damning internal reports about the DHS’s bioweapons detection system, known as BioWatch: One from the DHS inspector general in March that dissects the technical problems with BioWatch, and another from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in May that critiques the department’s failed efforts to implement upgrades. BioWatch was first established after the 2001 anthrax attacks, with national security officials deploying sensors that test the air for pathogens throughout 30 of the most populous U.S. cities. But since then, little has been done to upgrade the system. The DHS inspector general said BioWatch hasn’t evolved with the times, as it only covers 22 of 50 states and six …

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