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Development and Testing of Innovative Non-Invasive Container Screening Methods in the Supply Chain Defense Lab

Start Date: January 2019
Funding: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T)
Project Budget: $500,000
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Anne Goodchild
Other PI(s): Sam Wasser

This project will develop and test innovative, non-invasive container screening methods in the new Supply Chain Defense Lab (SCDLab). The SCDLab research partnership brings the Urban Freight Lab’s deep logistics expertise, global supply chain companies such as SSA Marine and Expeditors International of Washington, together with the UW Center for Conservation Biology Forensic and Detection Dog Programs to solve global supply chain security problems that are priorities for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) which is providing 10 years of research funding to Texas A&M University to lead a consortium of U.S. academic institutions—including UFL and Conservation Biology—in a new national Center of Excellence (COE) for Cross-Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense (CBTS). S&T will provide CBTS with a $3.85 million grant for its first operating year in 2019.

The initial research project will develop and test the effectiveness and efficiency of rapid-throughput canine detection methods and protocols to search containers for biologic contraband at the port.

As a hub of international commerce, Washington State provides an excellent environment to launch this project. The NW Seaport Alliance (Ports of Seattle and Tacoma) manages the nation’s third largest container port operation. In addition to serving as a global maritime gateway for goods entering the U.S, Washington State has high-volume border crossings that connect NW Washington and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, collectively known as the Cascade Gateway. The Gateway is among the busiest and most economically important along the entire northern border. Once in transit, illegal and counterfeit goods, and goods potentially introducing biological threats and vectors for disease, are easily concealed because of the scale of global supply chains. Some of the world’s most endangered species, forests and marine ecosystems are being targeted by transnational criminal organizations, with serious impacts on national and local economies, ecology, global health, and political stability around the world.

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