In a recently released special focus report, “Diagnostics for Biodefense – Flying Blind With No Plan to Land,” the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense provides an approach that would ensure the United States can rapidly develop innovative point-of-care and point-of-need diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and other novel, emerging, and reemerging infectious diseases when they occur.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), on behalf of the country’s nearly 3,000 local health departments, released a transition document providing recommendations to the Biden-Harris Administration and the 117th Congress.
It is yet to be determined if the intense calls for police reform and social justice are principally fueled by a contentious presidential election year or if the momentum behind public pressure for change will withstand political uncertainty. Building public pressure for police reform has transcended the political parties in the White House. The current demands for reform would most assuredly have shaped the next administration’s domestic agenda regardless of final presidential election results. This article examines aspects of police reform initiatives under a new administration.
October was National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Throughout the month, New York City (NYC) Emergency Management agency shared information to help community members take steps to safeguard their personal information. As the frequency and complexity of cyberthreats continue to increase, it is more important than ever to stay vigilant online. This vigilance should not be confined to a single month, but rather integrated into communities across the country and around the world 365 days a year.
Emergencies and disasters have a way of disrupting the norm. In emergency management, disruption is to be expected. However, the events that plague preparedness professionals in 2020 may have an even greater impact on how communities plan for and respond to disasters going forward. For example, the digital world has increased the ability to share data and information on a broad scale. Unfortunately, this is true for both good and bad information, which compromises the overall accuracy and reliability of the critical information that ultimately reaches key stakeholders. Protecting against cyberattacks and ensuring accurate information for data-driven decisions requires additional effort than years past.
Emergency management and public safety agencies are increasingly using data analysis and visualization tools (e.g., Tableau, Microsoft PowerBI, ArcGIS, Google Data Studio) to inform their decision-making and help manage disasters in a multi-threat/hazard environment. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, federal, state, and local government agencies rapidly expanded the use of these predictive analysis tools by integrating them into their emergency operations.
The Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is partnering with Invirsa to develop the company’s investigational product INV-102 to treat ocular conditions associated with DNA damage to include sulfur mustard injury. Sulfur mustard is a type of chemical warfare agent that causes blistering of the skin and mucous membranes on contact. There are currently no FDA-approved drugs to treat sulfur mustard ocular injury.
It is easy to understand the importance of “critical infrastructure,” such as telecommunications, energy, transportation, and emergency services, but what is often overlooked are the underlying technologies that enable them. One such technology is Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Resilient PNT Conformance Framework addresses this, and is planned for public release by the end of the year.
Accountability and transparency are prominent features of modern police reform. Yet, the concepts and structures for holding police accountable trace back to the origins of modern democratic police service in London, UK. A key motivation for creating public police service was the lack of accountability afforded by private police services – the watchman model. With Americans’ deeply embedded concerns over governmental excesses, layers of oversight have been imposed on police departments and agencies over U.S. history. The modern digital age poses new challenges and opportunities for police agencies to earn public trust through transparency. Modern technologies also pose serious obstacles to important due process in accountability of police services.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the completion of a new mobile tool that provides real-time information on water levels, weather, and flood forecasts all in one place on a computer, smartphone, or other mobile device. The new USGS National Water Dashboard (NWD) provides critical information to decision-makers, emergency managers, and the public during flood events, informing decisions that can help protect lives and property.
On any given day, educational institutions house more than 20% of the U.S. population. This equates to more than 60 million students, faculty, and staff. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department Advanced Practice Center created the Pandemic Influenza School Planning Toolkit to assist local public health agencies in partnering with schools within their jurisdictions for pandemic emergency preparedness planning.
A tool developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate called Power Hawk enables bomb technicians to be at a safe distance from an explosive device during procedures. What makes Power Hawk so special is that the bomb itself is not destroyed while being rendered safe. Since the components are left intact, the authorities can recover valuable forensic evidence to help lead law enforcement to the arrest of the bomber.
As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues working to address the current pandemic, they are also looking ahead to prepare for the next potential public health emergency. A recent executive order directed the agency, in consultation with federal partners, to identify a list of essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and critical inputs that are medically necessary to have available at all times in an amount adequate to serve patient needs and in the appropriate dosage forms.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has stated that the United States faces a rising danger from terrorists and rogue states seeking to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD). If the government learned that a terrorist intended to use a WMD in a major metropolitan U.S. city, senior government officials would need to determine how to resolve the competing interests involved in identifying and stopping the terrorist, while simultaneously preparing to save lives and minimize damage to property. This requires an understanding of how national policies have evolved over the past 25 years and what interagency coordination mechanisms exist that enable the government to effectively coordinate law enforcement and consequence management activities across all levels of government.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) SIGMA+ program conducted a week-long deployment of advanced chemical and biological sensing systems in the Indianapolis metropolitan region in August 2020, collecting more than 250 hours of daily life background atmospheric data across five neighborhoods that helped train algorithms to more accurately detect chemical and biological threats. The testing marked the first time in the program the advanced laboratory grade instruments for chemical and biological sensing were successfully deployed as mobile sensors, increasing their versatility on the SIGMA+ network.
Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Medical Countermeasures Clinical Studies Network (CSN) contract awards. The Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 established the support development and acquisition of medical countermeasures (MCMs) to prevent or treat the medical consequences of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases. These MCMs include vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical devices.