Northrop Grumman this week announced its Next Generation Automated Detection System (NG-ADS) for biodefense applications has successfully completed a rigorous field test.
The NG-ADS continuously collects air samples, analyzes the samples for the presence of multiple biological pathogens, and automatically reports results multiple times each day through a secure data network. During the field test, more than 20,000 samples were collected and analyzed in a variety of indoor and outdoor locations in a major city across the United States.
The NG-ADS technology is a competitor for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) upcoming BioWatch Gen-3 Phase II acquisition. The program seeks to deploy a nationwide network of fully autonomous bio-detectors in major metropolitan areas across the United States to provide early warning of a biological attack.
Critics of the DHS Biowatch program have noted the current Gen 1/2 systems require manual retrieval of samples, which is both labor intensive and adds significant time delays to sample analysis and critical decision-making. The NG-ADS system fulfills the Biowatch Generation 3 goal of automated biodetection, dramatically shortening the time to analysis of samples.
DHS believes that early detection is an essential part of an effective biodefense posture as reducing the time to detect is imperative to saving thousands of lives. The DHS FY 2013 budget request funds the current operations of the Gen 1/2 BioWatch and continues development and testing of the next generation technology to expedite response times. DHS recently announced that a request for proposals for the Gen 3 system will be issued later this year.
“There are concerns that our nation won’t be ready to respond should a biological attack occur,” said Dave Tilles, Director of Homeland Security programs at Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector. “Early warning provided by an automated detection system such as the NG-ADS will allow the nation’s public health and public safety officials to proactively manage the response to a biological event to reduce exposure and treat the affected population to minimize casualties.”
Since the successful field test, additional improvements have been made to the NG-ADS to enhance system performance while reducing its life-cycle cost.