Ubiquitous Computing for Microbial Forensics and Bioterrorism

Ubiquitous Computing for Microbial Forensics and Bioterrorism

Gaya Prasad (CCS Haryana Agricultural University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-220-6.ch005
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Microorganisms are ubiquitous in their presence. They are present in air, soil, water, and all kinds of living creatures. Varieties of microbes have been linked to diseases of humans, animals, and plants. Advances in molecular biology, electronics, nanotechnology, computer sciences, and information technology have made it possible to hybridize these to create ubiquitous devices and biosensors that would indicate presence of microbial agents in water, foods, air, hospitals, animal farms, and other environments. Analyses of microbial genomes and phylogenies have become increasingly important in the tracking and investigation of events leading to spread of microbial diseases and biocrimes. The capability of microorganisms to communicate with similar as well as different microorganisms, the ability to react to the environmental changes, and most of all, the intelligence to manage themselves without the need for supervision during deployment and operation; makes them attractive agents for use in Biosensors. Biosensors such as genetically engineered bacteria have been proven useful. It appears possible to develop biosensors that could detect the presence of biocrime/bioterror agents in diverse environments. Ubiquitous computing technology has the potential to develop integrated small devices which could detect bioterrorism agents. Similarly, pervasive computing could be a tool to monitor the microbial pollution in water, milk, and other edible commodities. Microbial forensics has become an important field for research and development due to increased threats of biocrimes. Microbial forensics requires utilization of diverse data that are acquired through standard processes in distributed locations. Technologies for data production are evolving rapidly, especially with respect to instrumentation and techniques that produce high-resolution data about the molecular constituents of living cells (DNA, mRNA, proteins, and metabolites) that are used as microbial signatures/fingerprints. Both bioinformatics and computational biology have grown over the last 20 years, and diverse database systems and analytical tools have been developed and deployed. Some public domain resources, such as GenBank, have become very important resources of research on a global scale. Effective responses to natural, accidental, or intentional outbreaks of infectious diseases in humans, livestock, and agricultural crops, will require that the information be easily accessed in realtime or near real-time. Flexible, decentralized, modular information system architectures, able to adapt to evolving requirements and available on the Internet, are needed.
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Dimensions of microbiological research are changing rapidly, largely due to emergence and re-emergence of globally important human, animal and plant diseases, biocrimes and threats of bioterrorism. Powerful new technologies, including novel imaging techniques, genomics, proteomics, nanotechnology, rapid DNA sequencing, and massive computational capabilities have converged to make it possible for scientists to develop pervasive devices that could detect dangerous microbial pathogens and potential bioterror agents quickly. It is a challenge to maintain the microbial quality of our plant and animal origin foods and water in a rapidly changing crowded and complex world. Bioterrorism and the distinct possibility that anthrax (Davis & Johnson, 2000) or other highly pathogenic infectious agent could be used as a bioweapon against people, animals and crops have frightened people world-wide. Bioterrorism can be defined as the “unlawful use of viruses, bacteria, fungi, toxins or other pathogenic materials against a government, the civilian population, livestock, crops or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political, social and/or economic objectives.” An apparent increase in the emergence of novel infectious diseases, including avian influenza, severe acquired respiratory syndrome (SARS), and others, has also brought microorganisms into sharp focus.

Microbial forensics is a relatively new scientific discipline dedicated to analyze microbiological evidence from a crime for attribution purposes (McEwen et al., 2006). The majority of microbial infections in humans, animals and plants occur naturally, without malicious intent or criminal negligence. However, recent reports of bioterrorism indicate that microorganisms and their products could be deliberately released to cause human deaths and economic losses due to loss of animals and crops. For example, in 1997 some unknown persons illegally introduced rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus into New Zealand, apparently to control the large wild rabbit population that was posing a problem for farmers (Thompson & Clark, 1997). Similarly, in 2001, Bacillus anthracis spores were deliberately distributed through the postal system of USA in the form of ‘anthrax letters’, resulting in at least 22 human cases of anthrax, five of them fatal (http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/fsc/backissu/oct2003/2003_10_guide01.htm).

In the event of a bioterror attack, the challenge is to detect and interrupt the insidious spread and impact as early as possible. Early detection is a most important factor in mitigating the effects of a bioterrorist event. A bioterror attack against an agricultural facility is not only a psychological and ecological attack; it also produces a long-term destabilization of a system of food security in an entire region, causing rapid price increases for food before the expression of infection/intoxication symptoms. Therefore, it is advisable to focus on the development of new detection and identification methods that would allow us to quickly and reliably identify pathogens/toxins used against living things and to take the necessary countermeasures. This system should be coordinated on the national and international levels since a number of dangerous pathogens are carried by winds, bugs and birds, which are not aware of national borders (McEwen et al., 2006).

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Jeffrey Soar
Varuna Godara
Chapter 1
Varuna Godara
Pervasive computing is trying to make the dreams of the science fiction writers come true—where you think of some type of convenience and you have... Sample PDF
Pervasive Computing: A Conceptual Framework
Chapter 2
Varuna Godara
The need for more and more flexibility (in terms of time and location) in business operations, contextbased services, decentralization of business... Sample PDF
Pervasive Business Infrastructure: The Network Technologies, Routing and Security Issues
Chapter 3
Deo Prakash Vidyarthi
The proliferation of the capable mobile devices has given the opportunity to utilize these devices for various purposes. The mobile devices being... Sample PDF
Computational Mobile Grid: A Computing Infrastructure on Mobile Devices
Chapter 4
Mark J.W. Lee
This chapter investigates the use of mobile digital technologies for learning, or mobile learning (mlearning), across a variety of education and... Sample PDF
Mobile and Pervasive Technology in Education and Training: Potential and Possibilities, Problems and Pitfalls
Chapter 5
Gaya Prasad
Microorganisms are ubiquitous in their presence. They are present in air, soil, water, and all kinds of living creatures. Varieties of microbes have... Sample PDF
Ubiquitous Computing for Microbial Forensics and Bioterrorism
Chapter 6
Jonathan G.M. Pratt
This chapter presents the major findings of case study research investigating uncritical assessment of an institution-wide learning management... Sample PDF
Falling Behind: A Case Study in Uncritical Assessment
Chapter 7
Yvonne Lee, Martin Kornberger
In the rapidly changing digital marketplace, firms increasingly try to look for new ways to acquire, engage, and retain their consumers. In doing... Sample PDF
Strategizing in the Digital World: Aligning Business Model, Brand and Technology
Chapter 8
Helena Halas, Tomaž Klobucar
This chapter explores the influence of pervasive computing on companies and their businesses, with the main stress on business models. The role of... Sample PDF
Business Models and Organizational Processes Changes
Chapter 9
Te Fu Chen
To date, identifying barriers and critical success factors (CSFs) and integrating business model in implementing e-business for SMEs, have not been... Sample PDF
The Critical Success Factors and Integrated Model for Implementing E-Business in Taiwan's SMEs
Chapter 10
Lawan Ahmed Mohammed
The change in physical structures of computing facilities into small and portable devices, or even wearable computers, has enhanced ubiquitous... Sample PDF
Security Issues in Pervasive Computing
Chapter 11
Grace Li
Pervasive computing and communications is emerging rapidly as an exciting new paradigm and discipline to provide computing and communication... Sample PDF
Deciphering Pervasive Computing: A Study of Jurisdiction, E-Fraud and Privacy in Pervasive Computing Environment
Chapter 12
Reima Suomi, Tuomas Aho, Tom Björkroth, Aki Koponen
Accurate identification of individuals is a cornerstone of any modern society. Without identification, we cannot recognize the parties of different... Sample PDF
Biometrical Identification as a Challenge for Legislation: The Finnish Case
Chapter 13
Antony Glambedakis
This chapter sets out to inform the reader about the impact of pervasive computers in aviation passenger risk profiling. First is an overview of the... Sample PDF
Pervasive Computers in Aviation Passenger Risk Profiling
Chapter 14
Penny Duquenoy, Oliver K. Burmeister
There is a growing concern both publicly and professionally surrounding the implementation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and... Sample PDF
Ethical Issues and Pervasive Computing
Chapter 15
Phillip W.J. Brook
This chapter explores the implications of knowledge sharing in an era of pervasive computing, and concludes that, perhaps counter-intuitively... Sample PDF
Knowledge Sharing and Pervasive Computing: The Need for Trust and a Sense of History
Chapter 16
Patrice Braun
In view of the fact that women are playing an increasingly important role in the global economy, this chapter examines business skilling in the... Sample PDF
Advancing Women in the Digital Economy: eLearning Opportunities for Meta-Competency Skilling
Chapter 17
B.K. Mangaraj, Upali Aparajita
The future of pervasive computers largely depends upon culture studies of human societies. This forms a challenging field of social research because... Sample PDF
Cultural Dimension in the Future of Pervasive Computing
Chapter 18
Genevieve Watson
Pervasive computers cover many areas of both our working and personal lives. This chapter investigates this phenomenon through the human factors... Sample PDF
Outline of the Human Factor Elements Evident with Pervasive Computers
Chapter 19
Kalawati Malik
This chapter analyses the impact of computer and video games on the development of children. First introductory part of this chapter informs its... Sample PDF
Impact of Computer and Video Games on the Development of Children
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