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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 26, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 32
Regional Disease Reporting Network Launched at APL

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 departments.

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."


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