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Suggested Citation:"Appendix E: Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2014. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch: Ensuring Timely and Accurate Information for Public Health Officials: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18495.
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E

Technology Readiness Levels in the
Department of Defense
1

Uses of Technology Readiness Levels

The primary purpose of using technology readiness levels (TRLs) is to help management in making decisions concerning the development and transitioning of technology. It should be viewed as one of several tools that are needed to manage the progress of research and development activity within an organization.

Among the advantages of TRLs:

•   Provide a common understanding of technology status,

•   Risk management,

•   Used to make decisions concerning technology funding, and

•   Used to make decisions concerning transition of technology.

Some of the characteristics of TRLs that limit their utility:

•   Readiness does not necessarily fit with appropriateness or technology maturity.

•   A mature product may possess a greater or lesser degree of readiness for use in a particular system context than one of lower maturity.

•   Numerous factors must be considered, including the relevance of the products’ operational environment to the system at hand, as well as the product–system architectural mismatch.

______________

1Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Guidance. U.S. Department of Defense, April 2011.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix E: Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2014. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch: Ensuring Timely and Accurate Information for Public Health Officials: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18495.
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TABLE E-1 TRL Definitions, Descriptions, and Supporting Information

TRL Definition Description Supporting Information
1 Basic principles observed and reported Lowest level of technology readiness. Scientific research begins to be translated into applied research and development (R&D). Examples might include paper studies of a technology’s basic properties. Published research that identifies the principles that underlie this technology. References to who, where, when.
2 Technology concept and/or application formulated Invention begins. Once basic principles are observed, practical applications can be invented. Applications are speculative, and there may be no proof or detailed analysis to support the assumptions. Examples are limited to analytic studies. Publications or other references that outline the application being considered and that provide analysis to support the concept.
3 Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept Active R&D is initiated. This includes analytical studies and laboratory studies to physically validate the analytical predictions of separate elements of the technology. Examples include components that are not yet integrated or representative. Results of laboratory tests performed to measure parameters of interest and comparison to analytical predictions for critical subsystems. References to who, where, and when these tests and comparisons were performed.
4 Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment Basic technological components are integrated to establish that they will work together. This is relatively “low fidelity” compared with the eventual system. Examples include integration of “ad hoc” hardware in the laboratory. System concepts that have been considered and results from testing laboratory-scale breadboard(s). Reference to who did this work and when. Provide an estimate of how breadboard hardware and test results differ from the expected system goals.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E: Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2014. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch: Ensuring Timely and Accurate Information for Public Health Officials: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18495.
×
TRL Definition Description Supporting Information
5 Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment Fidelity of breadboard technology increases significantly. The basic technological components are integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements so they can be tested in a simulated environment. Examples include “high-fidelity” laboratory integration of components. Results from testing laboratory breadboard system are integrated with other supporting elements in a simulated operational environment. How does the “relevant environment” differ from the expected operational environment? How do the test results compare with expectations? What problems, if any, were encountered? Was the breadboard system refined to more nearly match the expected system goals?
6 System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment Representative model or prototype system, which is well beyond that of TRL 5, is tested in a relevant environment. Represents a major step up in a technology’s demonstrated readiness. Examples include testing a prototype in a high-fidelity laboratory environment or in a simulated operational environment. Results from a laboratory testing of a prototype system that is near the desired configuration in terms of performance, weight, and volume. How did the test environment differ from the operational environment? Who performed the tests? How did the test compare with expectations? What problems, if any, were encountered? What are/were the plans, options, or actions to resolve problems before moving to the next level?
7 System prototype demonstration in an operational environment Prototype near or at planned operational system. Represents a major step up from TRL 6 by requiring demonstration of an actual system prototype in an operational environment (e.g., in an aircraft, in a vehicle, or in space). Results from testing a prototype system in an operational environment. Who performed the tests? How did the test compare with expectations? What problems, if any, were encountered? What are/were the plans, options, or actions to resolve problems before moving to the next level?
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E: Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2014. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch: Ensuring Timely and Accurate Information for Public Health Officials: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18495.
×
TRL Definition Description Supporting Information
8 Actual system completed and qualified through test and demonstration Technology has been proven to work in its final form and under expected conditions. In almost all cases, this TRL represents the end of true system development. Examples include developmental test and evaluation (DT&E) of the system in its intended weapon system to determine if it meets design specification. Results of testing the system in its final configuration under the expected range of environmental conditions in which it will be expected to operate. Assessment of whether it will meet its operational requirements. What problems, if any, were encountered? What are/were the plans, options, or actions to resolve problems before finalizing the design?
9 Actual system proven through successful mission operations Actual application of the technology in its final form and under mission conditions, such as those encountered in operational test and evaluation (OT&E). Examples include using the system under operational mission conditions. OT&E reports.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E: Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2014. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch: Ensuring Timely and Accurate Information for Public Health Officials: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18495.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix E: Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2014. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch: Ensuring Timely and Accurate Information for Public Health Officials: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18495.
×
Page142
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E: Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2014. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch: Ensuring Timely and Accurate Information for Public Health Officials: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18495.
×
Page143
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E: Technology Readiness Levels in the Department of Defense." Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2014. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch: Ensuring Timely and Accurate Information for Public Health Officials: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18495.
×
Page144
Next: Appendix F: White Paper 1: The BioWatch Program: What Information Is Needed to Inform Decision Making? »
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The BioWatch program, funded and overseen by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has three main elements--sampling, analysis, and response--each coordinated by different agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains the sampling component, the sensors that collect airborne particles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coordinates analysis and laboratory testing of the samples, though testing is actually carried out in state and local public health laboratories. Local jurisdictions are responsible for the public health response to positive findings. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is designated as the lead agency for the law enforcement response if a bioterrorism event is detected. In 2003 DHS deployed the first generation of BioWatch air samplers. The current version of this technology, referred to as Generation 2.0, requires daily manual collection and testing of air filters from each monitor. DHS has also considered newer automated technologies (Generation 2.5 and Generation 3.0) which have the potential to produce results more quickly, at a lower cost, and for a greater number of threat agents.

Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch is the summary of a workshop hosted jointly by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council in June 2013 to explore alternative cost-effective systems that would meet the requirements for a BioWatch Generation 3.0 autonomous detection system, or autonomous detector, for aerosolized agents . The workshop discussions and presentations focused on examination of the use of four classes of technologies--nucleic acid signatures, protein signatures, genomic sequencing, and mass spectrometry--that could reach Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6-plus in which the technology has been validated and is ready to be tested in a relevant environment over three different tiers of temporal timeframes: those technologies that could be TRL 6-plus ready as part of an integrated system by 2016, those that are likely to be ready in the period 2016 to 2020, and those are not likely to be ready until after 2020. Technologies to Enable Autonomous Detection for BioWatch discusses the history of the BioWatch program, the role of public health officials and laboratorians in the interpretation of BioWatch data and the information that is needed from a system for effective decision making, and the current state of the art of four families of technology for the BioWatch program. This report explores how the technologies discussed might be strategically combined or deployed to optimize their contributions to an effective environmental detection capability.

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