Representatives from the National Capital Region
— comprising the District of Columbia and counties in
Maryland and Virginia — met April 22 at
APL to kick off the
NCR Disease Surveillance Network project. The meeting
brought together senior health and homeland security
leaders, identified various roles and introduced key
researchers and members of the steering committee.
The project's goal is to establish a regional
surveillance network for the early detection and
notification of abnormal disease events that could cause
high morbidity and mortality in the region's populations.
To do this, the system collects data containing health
indicators, performs analysis and notifies users when
statistical anomalies occur.
The network will establish independent operation
centers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia,
with a central regional integration node operated by APL in
Laurel, Md., for performing surveillance across
jurisdictional boundaries. Operating 365 days a year, these
nodes will provide information to local public health
Jurisdictions have been meeting to determine how data,
which will have had personal information removed, will be
shared across jurisdictional boundaries.
The network will be assembled from technology
developed by APL in collaboration with DoD's Global
Emerging Infectious System under the Electronic
Surveillance System for the Early Notification of
Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE)-NCR test bed, which has
been operating as a pilot since the fall of 2001. Project
goals are to develop and implement protocols for a
coordinated disease surveillance system; establish the
network and operate the central regional surveillance node;
evaluate network performance and develop needed
improvements; and provide updates to the network based on
operational experience and ongoing disease surveillance
research performed by APL.
APL's Joe Lombardo, who led development of the ESSENCE
system, said, "Establishing this network is a crucial step
toward ensuring the safety of citizens living in the
National Capital Region."