Trans-Tasman cooperation on biosecurity risk detection technology

Head of Biosecurity New Zealand, Roger Smith, and Deputy Secretary responsible for Australian biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, have met in Canberra to exchange letters of cooperation between the two countries on exploring emerging technologies to better manage biosecurity risk.

Detecting biosecurity risks at the border is becoming increasingly complex for both Australia and New Zealand, with more diverse risks, and volumes of passengers, mail and cargo also expected to rise significantly in coming years, Mr Smith said.

“Working together to explore emerging technologies, and innovative use of technologies, will be mutually beneficial and help both our countries anticipate and meet future challenges. This is a great initiative and the next step in an ongoing conversation.”

Ms O’Connell said the two countries had always worked closely together but the exchange of letters marked a commitment to collaboration in biosecurity risk detection and would result in the trialling of emerging detection technologies such as 3-dimensional X-ray scanners and automatic detection software.

“This technology could revolutionise biosecurity operations at the border, allowing better targeting of items of biosecurity risk.”

One initiative is to develop an extensive image library of target items to assist in the development of a series of algorithms that will auto-detect biosecurity risk items. This is just one of many areas where a stronger cooperative relationship between the agencies will yield a biosecurity outcome that is much greater than could be achieved independently.

This cooperation will involve a range of proof-of-concept trials, including new ways of processing passengers, baggage, mail, and cargo that will help our biosecurity officers make more informed decisions and to better manage the biosecurity risk at the border.

Other technologies with the potential for better detection of biosecurity risk items will be explored jointly as they emerge or as future biosecurity threats arise.

Source: Ministry for Primary Industries