Improving Public Health Preparedness: Strengthening Biosurveillance Systems for Enhanced Situational Awareness


This report is designed to aid state, territorial, tribal, and local public health leaders as they improve their capacity to achieve situational awareness during a public health emergency. We intend this report to serve as a concise reference work public health leaders can use to help design and manage biosurveillance systems to be used during an anticipated public health emergency. We hope public health staff will find it helpful in answering the question, “What information do I need to support decision making during a public health emergency and how do I get this information?” To address this question, we focused on information needs for situational awareness using three scenarios: a mass gathering, a natural disaster, or a large outbreak.   During these events, information on population health status, health risks, and health services must be readily available to those managing the public health response to the event (Figure 1). This report lists “core” information needed to effectively manage the public health aspects of an event such as an outbreak, a natural disaster, or a mass gathering. Furthermore, the report describes guiding principles and system capabilities that assure surveillance information systems meet relevant standards, while addressing the need for flexibility to adapt to unique and changing circumstances.


We intend for the report’s findings and recommendations to be used by CDC grantees to prioritize activities related to the use of Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) funding (as well as funding from other CDC cooperative agreements) in the development, maintenance, and optimization of biosurveillance systems. In particular, we intend that our findings and recommendations will delineate specific action steps which will complement and supplement existing guidance contained in the recently developed PHEP capabilities.

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September, 2017

September 06, 2017

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This Knowledge Repository is made possible through the activities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement/Grant #1 NU500E000098-01, National Surveillance Program Community of Practice (NSSP-CoP): Strengthening Health Surveillance Capabilities Nationwide, which is in the interest of public health.

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