DHS announces winners of opioid detection challenge

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The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate announced the winners Thursday of its $1.5 million opioid detection challenge.

IDSS, an airport security scanning company based in Armonk, NY, won $500,000 for its solution which combines a 3D X-ray scanner with “automated detection algorithms.”

The runner-up, One Resonance, presented a solution that uses radio frequency to search for illicit substances, for which it won $250,000.

“The influx of illicit drugs is one of the nation’s greatest threats,” William N. Bryan, DHS senior official performing the duties of undersecretary for science and technology, said in a statement. “Through this combined effort to address the trafficking of opioids, S&T, our federal partners, and the private sector have produced technology solutions that will better protect the American people from the effects of this devastating crisis.”

The opioid detection challenge launched in February as a partnership between DHS S&T, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The stated goal was to find “novel, automated, nonintrusive, user-friendly and well-developed” ideas for tools and technologies that can detect opioids in the mail and thus disrupt their flow.

The broader goal, of course, is to combat the ongoing deadly opioid epidemic, a public health crisis that claimed around 50,000 lives in 2017.

In June, the challenge organizers chose eight finalists and gave each $100,000. The challenge culminated Thursday with an event and a live test of the technologies at the DHS Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL) in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.

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Challenge.gov, challenges, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, Opioid Detection Challenge