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Can J Public Health. 2010 Nov-Dec;101(6):454-8.

A multi-function public health surveillance system and the lessons learned in its development: the Alberta Real Time Syndromic Surveillance Net.

Author information

  • 1Population & Public Health, Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, AB. shihe.fan@albertahealthservices.ca



We describe a centralized automated multi-function detection and reporting system for public health surveillance--the Alberta Real Time Syndromic Surveillance Net (ARTSSN). This improves upon traditional paper-based systems which are often fragmented, limited by incomplete data collection and inadequate analytical capacity, and incapable of providing timely information for public health action.


ARTSSN concurrently analyzes multiple electronic data sources in real time to describe results in tables, charts and maps. Detected anomalies are immediately disseminated via alerts to decision-makers for action.


ARTSSN provides richly integrated information on a variety of health conditions for early detection of and prompt action on abnormal events such as clusters, outbreaks and trends. Examples of such health conditions include chronic and communicable disease, injury and environment-mediated adverse incidents.


Key advantages of ARTSSN over traditional paper-based methods are its timeliness, comprehensiveness and automation. Public health surveillance of communicable disease, injury, environmental hazard exposure and chronic disease now occurs in a single system in real time year round. Examples are given to demonstrate the public health value of this system, particularly during Pandemic (H1N1) 2009.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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