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Biosecur Bioterror. 2012 Mar;10(1):131-41. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2011.0096. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

Assessing the continuum of event-based biosurveillance through an operational lens.

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  • 1National Security Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99352, USA.


This research follows the Updated Guidelines for Evaluating Public Health Surveillance Systems, Recommendations from the Guidelines Working Group, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly a decade ago. Since then, models have been developed and complex systems have evolved with a breadth of disparate data to detect or forecast chemical, biological, and radiological events that have a significant impact on the One Health landscape. How the attributes identified in 2001 relate to the new range of event-based biosurveillance technologies is unclear. This article frames the continuum of event-based biosurveillance systems (that fuse media reports from the internet), models (ie, computational that forecast disease occurrence), and constructs (ie, descriptive analytical reports) through an operational lens (ie, aspects and attributes associated with operational considerations in the development, testing, and validation of the event-based biosurveillance methods and models and their use in an operational environment). A workshop was held in 2010 to scientifically identify, develop, and vet a set of attributes for event-based biosurveillance. Subject matter experts were invited from 7 federal government agencies and 6 different academic institutions pursuing research in biosurveillance event detection. We describe 8 attribute families for the characterization of event-based biosurveillance: event, readiness, operational aspects, geographic coverage, population coverage, input data, output, and cost. Ultimately, the analyses provide a framework from which the broad scope, complexity, and relevant issues germane to event-based biosurveillance useful in an operational environment can be characterized.

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