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S&T Launches Hidden Signals Challenge to Uncover Emerging Biothreats


Science and Technology


11/20/2017 10:51 AM EST

As DHS’s research and development arm, the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) looks to envision the future of our nation’s security, while supporting current operational needs. With our Biosurveillance Systems program, we work to provide local officials with new ways to identify potential biothreats, in order to improve response times and minimize impact to public safety.

William N. Bryan Sinior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and TechnologyAs part of this effort, we recently launched the Hidden Signals Challenge, a prize competition calling upon data innovators to develop concepts for novel uses of existing data that will identify signals and achieve timelier alerts for biothreats in our cities and communities.

Biothreats occur when harmful pathogens are either naturally or deliberately released, posing a risk to national security and public health. With this prize competition we aim to develop real-time insights that can improve public safety responses to emerging biothreats by exploring connections between multiple publicly-accessible and low-cost data sources. We intend for this work to be the first step in the design of a local and/or national-level system that could enable city-level operators to make critical and proactive decisions based on the most relevant and actionable insights.

The challenge focuses on large metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta as the basis for a proof of concept, but is open to solutions that address all geographic locations. Cities interested in providing data resources, partnership or mentorship to the Challenge should contact On November 1, S&T conducted a webinar providing additional details about the Hidden Signals prize challenge; watch for more details.

Those interested in participating in the Challenge should submit their concept by 4:59 PM EST, Monday, December 4, 2017. The judges will evaluate the submissions and select up to five Finalists to advance to Stage 2. Stage 1 Finalists will receive $20,000 in seed money to further develop concepts into detailed system designs in Stage 2.

Look for updates about the Challenge on S&T’s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages! Join the conversation using #HiddenSignals.

Topics: Science and Technology
Keywords: biodefense, R&D

U.S. Department of Homeland Security · · 202-282-8000