Recent growth in Australia’s trade and tourism requires that the country must investigate and potentially utilize a wide variety of new technologies available in biosurveillance and biosecurity.
As a consequence of the considerable growth in imports, cost-effective technologies used for inspecting containers and other import risks, that will realistically protect the environment, are urgently required.
In this regard, the most promising developments in risk-based biosurveillance are a combination of approaches for determining cost-efficient search activities and new tools for the earliest possible identification of potentially dangerous material or species.
To effectively utilize the new technology available in the field of biosurveillance Australia should be considering:
- Developing predictive models for time allocation and prioritisation of search efforts, combining multiple sources of information on the probability of detecting a species at any given time or location.
- Providing specialised training and enhanced opportunities for implementing advancing environmental genomic methods for the detection and identification of biosecurity risk pests and pathogens.
Furthermore, this can also specifically include:
(i) The identification of species from cryptic life stages ‘concealed’ in cargo or storage.
(ii) Detection of pests and diseases from forensic environmental screening of particular risk sources.
(iii) Confirming the geographic source of a species, to quantify risk pathways and identify potential biosecurity issues in a species’ native range.
Environment Institute member Associate Professor Phillip Cassey, an expert in biosecurity, proposes the integration of the advancing technology in biosurveillance.
Associate Professor Cassey believes that “biosurveillance can currently be an extremely costly and potentially inefficient process, especially when trying to demonstrate the absence of a pest or disease. In the future, Australia must focus on providing expert knowledge and training in a variety of emerging technologies and approaches to biosurveillance.”