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WRAL.com - N.C. bio-threat warning system lands $3M in federal funding

July 24, 2013
In The News

By TechWire

RALEIGH, N.C. —A project that would give an early warning for threats of a bioterror attack or other public safety threats in North Carolina has landed $3 million in additional federal funding.

The North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative (NCB-Prepared) is spearheaded by universities and private businesses to develop an early warning system. The goal is a statewide system that can detect and alert health officials and emergency responders within hours of symptom outbreaks that could indicate a bioterror attack, highly-contagious disease, food-borne illness or other threats.

U.S. Rep. David Price, a member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, announced the funding today from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

NCB-Prepared gathers multiple sources of data-from human, animal, and environmental sources produced by a number of agencies. Advanced computer analytics gives emergency responders and health professionals information they need to respond and take pre-emptive actions to mitigate the spread of the threat. The system currently receives and accesses live data. The Homeland Security grant will be used to expand and refine the system.

"By pooling data from systems that currently 'don't talk to each other,' NCB-Prepared will help first responders and health professionals see the whole picture and act decisively to end the threat posed by a health incident or biological or chemical attack," Price said in a statement. "NCB-Prepared will also give responders the information they need to calibrate the least disruptive, most-effective disaster response possible."

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and N.C. State University are leading the NCB-Prepared initiative. The effort also includes the N.C. Division of Public Health and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, as well as others from the public and private sectors including Cary-based business intelligence and analytics software company SAS.

NCB-Prepared was launched in 2010 with an initial $5 million installment from Homeland Security's Office of Health Affairs under a cooperative agreement. The project builds on existing state public health data initiatives such as NC-DETECT, one of the most advanced public health awareness systems in the country, which collects and analyzes hospital emergency room and other data several times a day.