Intelligence gathering is the screening of different sources of information for signals of emerging issues, the fostering of foresight activities to help anticipate future problems and the analysis of social networks. Intelligence research develops and tests tools to assist governments and other managers to minimise the threat of future incursions of pests and diseases.
CEBRA sponsored and facilitated a number of workshops that aimed to improve the skills and capabilities of Department members to conduct foresight workshops and horizon scanning activities. An external expert ran workshops over several years, involving Department officers from a range of contexts.
CEBRA assessed online systems for biosecurity intelligence-gathering and analysis against the Department’s needs,107 providing the platform and support for the subsequent development of a web based International Biosecurity Intelligence System (IBIS) for plant and animal (aquatic and terrestrial) biosecurity (Box 3, Quote 11 and Quote 12).
IBIS incorporates a worldwide network of members and a database. It is open source and uses a combination of automation, a software robot scouring the Internet, and crowd-sourcing to collect and classify biosecurity information. As a strategic intelligence tool for biosecurity IBIS is now part of the daily intelligence activities performed by specialist staff in the Department. It enhances the Department’s capability of early warning, better planning and response mechanisms to deal with emerging biosecurity threats. Follow on projects further improved IBIS. In 2019, new features were added to the system, enabling it to monitor global animal welfare and trade issues. Further features are under development, such as forecasting, visualisation and greater foreign language translation (Biosecurity Matters, Edition 2, 2019, DAWE newsletter).
The OIE uses IBIS as a scanning tool to detect and provide early warning of internationally notifiable disease outbreaks. The department’s considers provision of access to IBIS for the OIE as a significant contribution to help improve animal health world-wide. IBIS has successfully transformed the way the OIE monitor global biosecurity events resulting in a 90% decrease in scanning effort (team of 6) and a 20% increase in early disease outbreak detection.
We wanted to be an international leader in modern biosecurity intelligence, especially for plant and marine/aquatic pests and diseases. Working with CEBRA, we believe we have that system and it is called the International Biosecurity Intelligence System (IBIS). Getting the right information to the right people in a timely way is a key part of managing biosecurity for the Department and we use IBIS everyday. The assistance of CEBRA was vital in helping us achieve our goal.
A recent project investigated whether software could be used to identify biosecurity risks associated with Internet commerce, a pathway that facilitates long distance dispersal of alien species. The project identified possible options for addressing software requirements by MPI or DAWE for monitoring of international trade in biosecurity-regulated goods. A number of existing systems for monitoring biosecurity-regulated trade could be adapted, for example.108