DHS Launches Opioid Detection Challenge

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is hoping some interagency competition will help combat the opioid epidemic. The $1.55 million global prize competition will call on a variety of private and public sector groups to create action plans to detect the flow of narcotics in postal packages.

In a February 27 press release, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy explains, “The Challenge calls upon innovators to submit novel plans for rapid, nonintrusive detection tools that will help find illicit opioids being trafficked into the United States through international mail.”

The Challenge was created through a collaboration by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The first stage of the competition invites individuals or groups to submit a plan by 4:59 PM ET, April 24, 2019. Judges will select eight plans to move forward onto the second stage. During this stage, finalists will participate in a “14-week prototyping accelerator,” where plans will be tested.

According to the Challenge webpage, during the second stage, participants will have access to additional resources such as mentors, guidance from government experts, educational webinars, and access to additional datasets and information on current processes.

Stage two will end with a live test event hosted by the DHS with all finalists.

The eight finalists will receive equal shares of $800,000. The runner up will be awarded $250,000. The winner will receive $500,000.

National Drug Control Policy Director Jim Carroll said, ““Stopping the flow of illicit drugs from coming into the United States is a crucial part of addressing the addiction crisis. This competition will bring together innovators, experts, and technology leaders to help meet the challenges we face head on and accomplish our ultimate goal – saving lives.”

More than 70,000 thousand Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017, nearly 50,000 of which were caused by opioids.

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