Surveillance is essential for communicable disease prevention and control. Traditional notification of demographic and clinical information, about individuals with selected (notifiable) infectious diseases, allows appropriate public health action and is protected by public health and privacy legislation, but is slow and insensitive. Big data–based electronic surveillance, by commercial bodies and government agencies (for profit or population control), which draws on a plethora of internet- and mobile device–based sources, has been widely accepted, if not universally welcomed. Similar anonymous digital sources also contain syndromic information, which can be analysed, using customised algorithms, to rapidly predict infectious disease outbreaks, but the data are nonspecific and predictions sometimes misleading. However, public health authorities could use these online sources, in combination with de-identified personal health data, to provide more accurate and earlier warning of infectious disease events—including exotic or emerging infections—even before the cause is confirmed, and allow more timely public health intervention. Achieving optimal benefits would require access to selected data from personal electronic health and laboratory (including pathogen genomic) records and the potential to (confidentially) re-identify individuals found to be involved in outbreaks, to ensure appropriate care and infection control.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity (MBI) have joined hands to combat the threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases by increasing capacity in outbreak investigation and disease surveillance.
With support of our Conference Partners, the University of Sydney are hosting the first international conference on global health security in Sydney, 18-20 June 2019 - registrations are now open
This methodology has enjoyed increasing popularity among researchers internationally and has been inspired by developments across a range of disciplines: ethnography, visual and applied anthropology, medical sociology, health services research, medical and nursing education, adult education, community development, and qualitative research ethics.