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GIFT CBRN Report Summary

Project ID: 608100
Funded under: FP7-SECURITY
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 1 - GIFT CBRN (Generic Integrated Forensic Toolbox for CBRN incidents)

Project Context and Objectives:
Incidents where Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear agents (CBRN) are released can have different causes, not only terrorist attacks where CBRN agents have been used but also e.g. malicious acts by criminals or industrial incidents might occur. Forensic investigation can provide answers for solving crime by technical investigation on the questions “What happened?”, “How did it occur?” and “Who are the perpetrators.

The project aims to make advancements in contemporary forensic research by providing procedures and practicalities and innovative tools and equipment and best practices in doing forensic research on CBRN contaminated incident scenes, methods for traditional forensic research on contaminated evidence and profiling the CBRN that were released during the incident. The developed procedures, tools and best practices will be integrated and made available in a forensic toolbox for the forensic investigators acting on the incident scene and the forensic researchers in the laboratories.

To establish a baseline, scenario’s will be developed and a gap analysis will be done to identify those areas that show potential for advancements (WP2). On the basis of the scenario’s and gap analysis the areas will be described that require improvements for which this project can develop improvements. The scenario’s will also be used to validate the tools developed within this project. It is the aim of the project to develop a toolbox that covers forensic research for a selected choice of CBRN agents.
Three specific application areas for improvements are identified, firstly the gathering of evidence on the scene of the incident or accident, and secondly the research on CBRN contaminated evidence in a laboratory environment and thirdly identifying and profiling the used CBRN agents. These application areas are different for each of the C-, B- and RN agents in required procedures and activities and may require different tools. Tools are identified that may improve forensic research on the scene of an incident or accident (WP3) and procedures to collect, register and package evidence, to maintain the chain of custody, to perform a safety assessment, as well as several tools that may be applied for forensic research in a laboratory environment (WP4). To successfully trace the CBRN contamination to the source or vendor, identification and profiling of the CBRN agent may prove valuable. Methods will be developed to identify and profile C- and B- agents, an feasibility study will be done in WP5 to evaluate the possibilities of profiling radiological contamination so that it can be traced back to the source.
To successfully implement these tools in their specific application areas they will be integrated in the forensic toolbox for which and made available by means of a web application (WP6). An education and training curriculum will be developed in WP7 to ensure the work of GIFT can be adapted by the forensic community within the EU Member States. For the system validation exercises based on the scenario’s of WP2 will be organised.
WP8 will describe the legal, ethical and societal impact of the project as well as the ethical issues that play a role in the development of the deliverables of the project.
To successfully bring the experience and knowledge built in this project to the forensic community, the dissemination Work Package (WP9) will publish the developed tools and best practices, demonstrate the developed tools at conferences on forensic research, and organise workshops to adapt with the end users.

Project Results:
The GIFT-CBRN forensic toolbox, Grant Agreement 608100, started 1st of September 2014. The kick off meeting has taken place at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) in The Hague on 17-18 September 2014. The GIFT consortium has planned a consortium meeting every 6 months with all the partners. Consortium meetings were held in Antalya, Turkey (17-19 March 2015) and Kista, Sweden (5-7 October 2016). The GIFT External Advisory Board (EAB) did have the first meeting on 11 January 2016 at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. The aim for the EAB as representatives of stakeholders and end users is to advise the GIFT consortium in their developments.
WP2 focussed on the identification of the needs and requirements of the forensic community to be able to adequately perform an investigation of a CBRN incident. This work package is finished already. The outcome of this work package has been made available in support to the work in GIFT. The development of procedures, guidelines and technology in WP3 are in progress and should enable a faster, cheaper, accurate and reliable crime scene investigation of CBRN incidents, dealing with the special challenges of CBRN circumstances woth focus on planning the investigation (priorities, action plan, safety), to register, collect and sample of evidence materials, on-site investigation, packaging and decontamination of evidence for transport. The work in progress in WP4 are to develop procedures and methodologies to enable traditional forensic science (DNA, fingerprints and recovery of data from electronic devices) on CBRN contaminated exhibits and to develop either by decontamination of the exhibits or performing the work under protective conditions. Identification and profiling of CBRN agents is the main topic of WP5. Work done and still in progress are related to develop laboratory methods for chemical threat agents to provide sufficient information to relate it to any possible source. For toxins the work in progress of this task is to develop generic analytical tools toxic biomolecules from living organisms as a general screening method for toxins and attribution profiling of toxin samples. For bio agents a tool and protocol has been developed and tested that comprises a sampling and successive DNA-extraction step, that yields a non-infectious DNA/RNA-extract. A general statistical method for calculating evidence value of source attribution to a pathogen that is accepted and admissible in Court is in development. A survey of existing laboratory capabilities for nuclear forensics analysis in EU member states and a report on nuclear forensics analysis and interpretation of nuclear materials and signatures of radiological materials to match the needs of law enforcement has been performed .
The integration and development of the integrated toolbox is focussed on interfacing of the GIFT deliverables. A generic communication protocol is developed to accomplish data communication between the GIFT technical deliverables and the toolbox and a graphic user interface is I development to make the measured data available for the investigators, the command and control center.
The validation, exercise and curriculum work package has the objective to validate the developed procedures, methods and equipment in the forensics toolbox. As WP7 starts in the second half of the project initial work has already been done. Templates regarding QA standards and legal issues have already been developed as well as the evaluation templates.

For legal, ethical and societal implication involving the GIFT project and its deliverables the GIFT Legal Handbook has been developed in the context of the EU policy in security and the management of a CBRN incident and EU Privacy and Data Protection.

AS dissemination is of great importance for GIFT in WP9 developed the GIFT website, outreach materials, press releases, social media and a database with relavant stakeholders and end users within the CBRN community.

Potential Impact:
Therefore provide a solid legal hold concerning CBRN forensic aspects. Potential users of the expected developments will be both public and/or private users. One of the main drivers for European economic prosperity is innovation. Innovation is for a business today more crucial than ever in order to be able to survive and prosper in a fast changing environment. Especially SMEs, which are the breeding grounds for great ideas, need support in their research and development efforts needed to put innovative ideas into market products and common practice. The framework of GIFT provides strong interactions between universities, research organisations, SMEs, linked enterprises, end users (stakeholders, government agencies etc) and large established corporations. This way, the innovative methods developed in the GIFT project can be effectively commercialised and brought to the market after the project. Through GIFT the SMEs and linked enterprise will be able to strengthen their economic and IPR positions, show a steady growth, which will eventually create more job opportunities. As a direct consequence of this GIFT will deliver common procedures, practices and guidelines, as well as where necessary new technologies, leading to common methods for CBRN forensics. Thus industry will have a solid and common basis to develop and deliver appropriate products or forensic analysis. While the market for such technologies is rather specialised and limited, it is expected that economies of scale will be achieved by delivering a European solution, overcoming fragmented national markets and helping to maintain global competitiveness of the European companies, which are predominantly SMEs.

The commercialization of the GIFT deliverables is under the attention of the GIFT consortium and needs to be further developed. The deliverables of GIFT will form the basis of technological advances and will open new possibilities for further National and International research outside the scope of the project, thus largely contributing to the consolidation of the ERA and increased research investments.

One of the potential sectors for the GIFT deliverables next to the forensic market can be the adaption of GIFT deliverables for use is the food and drink industry. This industry is the European Union’s largest manufacturing sector, with a turnover of €810 billion, 90% of which is generated by SMEs. Since SMEs account for 98% of the sector’s 35,000 businesses, they are the backbone of the overall food chain, with solid relationships with all the other actors operating from farm to fork and vice-versa. Consequently, they are ideally placed to help bridge the communication gap separating the stakeholders in food quality and safety, namely, primary food producers, consumers, scientists and processing SMEs. The European food and drink industry therefore holds the biggest piece of the production pie, providing jobs to more than 4 million people in approximately 280,000 companies and covering a market of 450 million EU consumers. The industry posted €810 billion in turnover in 2004 and its export potential stood at €50 billion. These figures only prove the influence Europe has on the World market. The anticipated strategic impact of adapting the proposed forensic toolbox would be very high, as GIFT will target the development of a low cost easy-to-use system accessible to the non-specialist. By ensuring that both operation of and data interpretation from the system will be compatible with the non-specialist, a market among general laboratory analysts is easily envisaged. The analytical methods developed will advance knowledge in the field and offer commercial opportunities to a broad range of European companies, which should result in new employment possibilities as the methods are adopted and widely applied not only in Europe but also Worldwide. Therefore, the development of toolbox technologies integrated with tailored multi-sensing modules that address monitoring of CBRN contamination, with an emphasis on reliability and cost reduction, which are characterised by low cost, high efficiency and simplicity of processing and construction will have a disruptive strategic impact.

List of Websites:

Reported by

Netherlands Forensic Institute


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