Accreditation and operational testing of Animal Detection Systems and handlers

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    01 Feb 2020

Animal Detection Systems (ADS) are a tool that may be used in land release processes to support technical survey (TS) and clearance. As an input to the land release process ADS require testing, in accordance with IMAS 07.12 and 07.40, to confirm that they satisfy quality requirements, particularly in terms of their capability to detect Explosive Ordnance (EO) including, landmines and other target objects that may be specified by authorities, customers and other stakeholders. While ADS is a generic term, the only animals currently in use are dogs and rats. This chapter, however, will cover Mine Detection Dogs (MDD) and Mine Detection Rats (MDR) in the context of mine clearance (including conventional ERW), while Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD) and other operational applications of ADS may be covered in the relevant annexes supporting this chapter. This chapter recognises that dogs may be used as MDD, Technical Survey Dogs (TSD) or both.


Establishing and maintaining stakeholder confidence in the reliability of ADS requires that tests of the capability and performance of ADS are rigorous, realistic, reliable and transparent. It is also important that operational tests are designed to reflect expected performance of ADS units in the field and that they are adjusted as required. Tests are carried out during initial accreditation and periodic reassessment.


Where logistically possible, tests should always be conducted in an environment replicating future intended areas for ADS operations. The nature of ADS testing is such that there may be some aspects of the situation that do not exactly replicate operational circumstances and conditions. Nevertheless, testing authorities and agencies shall strive to create test conditions that give mine action actors confidence that a successful test result ensures minimum required operational capability and technical competence to conduct safe ‘live’ land release operations under field conditions.


Constraints of time, cost and efficiency, as well as prevailing security situation, may mean that daily operational testing at task sites in support of day-to-day operations cannot satisfy all the requirements of this IMAS, but any such testing should still seek to satisfy similar criteria, so far as possible, to ensure that tests are valid in relation to live operations.


*This is a draft document that has been accepted by the IMAS Review Board, it still needs to be accepted by the IMAS Steering Group and then formally approved by the UN Inter-agency Coordination Group – Mine Action.

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