Regulation of biosensors misguided, experts says

The decision by lawmakers in San Francisco to propose regulating the use of sensors on buildings to detect dangerous biological and chemical agents is a poor one, according to the heads of the International Security & Biopolicy Institute.

Brent Davidson, the director of program development at ISBI, a non-profit founded to address the challenges of biosecurity, and Barry Kellman, ISBI’s president, called the decision misguided and likely to cripple the market for useful anti-terrorism and public health technologies, according to

With other cities following suit, Davidson and Kellman worry that, in the absence of national standards, the market for early warning systems meant to protect the U.S. population would be effectively balkanized.

The two call the motivation behind the legislation justified, saying that there is a right to be concerned that the proliferation of such equipment would lead to false alarms being sent to fire, police and other first responders, but they said that local regulation is not the answer. Instead, they argue that the answer lies in consistent standards that are available to everyone seeking to utilize such equipment, reports.

The federal government, which is the primary sponsor of sensor research and purchase, has adopted a set of strict standards, but they do not cover sensor companies that sell to private or local government property owners.

Terror attacks are not limited to federal assets and the sensible use of sensor technology should be encouraged among owners and operators of potential targets, Davidson and Kellman said, and San Francisco and other cities should use their resources to press for a series of national standards in open collaboration with the private sector.