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Bio-security

Incident Response Use Case 

One of the keys to Australia’s agricultural productivity and related export trade is its freedom from exotic diseases. To facilitate the nation’s disease free status, the Australian Federal Government, along with State Governments, has formed specialised committees to respond to these threats. The importance of these committees cannot be understated as, for example, the incursion of foot and mouth disease virus into Australia would remove Australia’s disease-free status and theoretically result in the loss of around A$8 – A$16 billion (€6.3 -- €12.6 billion) per annum. The real effectiveness of these groups in responding to an emergency is reliant on their ability to convene as quickly as possible and share and discuss sensitive, current and real-time information about the possible threats.

The Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Disease (CCEAD2) is one such technical and operational committee. It is devoted to the management of emergency animal health and consists of representatives from the various Australian state and federal Chief Veterinary Offices (CVOs), associated government departments, national and European research organisations, the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL3) and other specialist facilities, as well as associated industry representatives (e.g. diary, beef, etc). In the case of an outbreak that could be a threat to human health, the committee membership also includes the Federal Chief Medical Officer. When an animal disease outbreak happens, the CCEAD is formed to collaboratively analyse current research and diagnostic information and discuss the strategies for dealing with the emergency outbreak. Organisationally, the CCEAD represents a dynamic, distributed collaboration with strict access and security protocols. This collaboration involves multiple individuals, locations and groups that represent different sectors and states, amongst whom sensitive information must be shared in a timely manner, to facilitate the best evidence-based decisions. See an CEAD.

It is important to realise that despite committees such as the CCEAD having carefully defined and agreed upon protocols, each member of the committee has its own jurisdictions, policies and procedures for the control of sensitive information, as well as corresponding identity management and security systems. Therefore, a properly automated Authorisation and Authentication infrastructure is required that can incorporate the various identity management systems so as to: (i) ensure authentication with high levels of assurance; (ii) manage and enforce cross-domain access policies; and (iii) guarantee integrity of the information, access to specialised equipment, facilities and services in such a dynamic distributed system, even after the incident has been resolved and the formal collaboration has been terminated. The information shared and discussed during the incident needs to be curated properly, with rich set of provenance information and access control mechanisms put in place, such that any subsequent incident can draw upon the historical information following strict security, privacy and control of information protocols.

See here for two videos: on CCEAD and on the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL).

Pilot

We deploy a system for information sharing for the CCEAD collaboration. The Bio-security Incident Response Pilot will carry out a series of committee meetings and evaluate their effectiveness and productivity improvement over current practices and procedures. The committees investigated are expected to be similar in structure and membership to the CCAED, see the figure below, whose members are located at research facilities and organisations across the Australian states of Queensland, NSW, and Victoria.

CSIRO developed an operational collaboration infrastructure that has been deployed in locations given in the table below. Current CCP installations are connected via high capacity broadband links (potentially exceeding 300Mbps, bidirectional, per node). The installed platforms (referred to as the CSIRO Collaboration Platform, or CCP) are currently used to discuss research results and operational matters between partner organisations of various committees. It is intended that this collaboration infrastructure will be the kernel upon which the pilot software systems will be deployed and evaluated. Possible expansion of this infrastructure, including to Europe are foreseen, as EMBL Heidelberg has expressed interest in obtaining secure access to the AAHL facilities via the collaboration infrastructure.

To realise the vision of facilitating truly dynamic, real-time trustworthy collaborations that share sensitive information requires that the collaboration infrastructure support:

  1. authentication of individuals and associated computing resources with high levels of assurance;
  2. authorisation and access control for sharing sensitive (confidential) information, instruments and associated research services;
  3. proof of integrity of critical components and resources within the collaboration infrastructure;
  4. accountability service, to assure that when trusted behaviours are broken that there is
  5. incontrovertible evidence available as to how the system failed;
  6. privacy-preserving technologies to assure of the confidentiality of the participants as well as the information that is shared during the collaboration.
Partner OrganisationLocationStatus
Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) Geelong, VIC Operational
Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) (Australian CVO Office) Canberra, ACT Operational
Queensland Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Queensland CVO Department) Coopers Plains, QLD Operational
CSIRO ICT Centre (Research Platform Development) Marsfield, NSW x2; Canberra, ACT

Operational

Current CCP installations


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