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News Release


Release No: 444-02
August 27, 2002


The Department of Defense announced today that the deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for chemical and biological defense is initiating a new program to support homeland security called the Biological Defense Homeland Security Support Program. The purpose of the program is to achieve early detection and characterization of a biological-related incident in an urban area in order to reduce casualties, minimize disruption to infrastructures and support consequence management efforts.

The program provides an integrated homeland security capability to detect, mitigate and respond to biological related incidents through enhanced biological detection capabilities and a fusion of medical surveillance systems, wide-area environmental sensors, and communications systems integration.

The program consists of two separate efforts: the Biological Defense Initiative (BDI) which will be executed by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA); and the National Capital Region (NCR) demonstration to be executed by the Program Executive Office for Chemical/Biological Defense (PEOCBD).

The BDI objectives are to develop and deploy two prototype urban monitoring systems by June 2004 and demonstrate a potential model for a national capability. The BDI program will demonstrate the feasibility of integrating disparate information sources to enhance the capability to detect and characterize a biological-related incident. As part of the development effort, DTRA will establish a testbed using equipment deployed in Albuquerque, N.M.

The NCR demonstration objectives are to expand the currently operational aerosol monitoring system in the NCR and integrate the information into an expanded over-arching bio-surveillance network called Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE) II. This expanded capability integrates both military and civilian health care and other non-traditional medical indicators to allow for early warning of acts of bio-terrorism. Data collected from ESSENCE II will be used to determine the best methods and procedures for initiating similar urban bio-surveillance systems. This expanded capability will be operational by the end of fiscal 2003.

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