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Health Officials Could Identify & Act on Crises Earlier With New Draper Biosurveillance Tool
Date:10/22/2013

Cambridge, MA (PRWEB) October 22, 2013

A cloud computing service under development at Draper Laboratory could provide insights that enable public health preparedness and response officials to more quickly limit the severity of emerging public health crises, whether due to bioterrorism, novel influenza pandemics, or other disease outbreaks.

Draper leads a team of researchers developing the Collaborative Overarching Multi-feed Biosurveillance System (COMBS), a system that will use a cloud-based network to gather a broader range of public data from social media, blogs, search trends, open source information such as news, as well as traditional health information sources to create a dynamic, diverse data stream. COMBS includes comprehensive tools for the visualization and interpretation of the data – allowing analysts unprecedented access to biosurveillance data that will enable real-time decision making by public health officials.

In 2012’s National Strategy for Biosurveillance, the White House called for improved biosurveillance capabilities to increase responsiveness to natural and deliberate threats. Biosurveillance is the set of activities that identify health incidents quickly, and support rapid and effective decision making “at all levels.” The threats include natural ones such as SARS and the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, plus malevolent threats like the Anthrax attacks. Existing biosurveillance systems are better equipped to handle post-event analysis based on lab tests than to gather pre-event or very early indicators that can lead to rapid preventive measures. Those systems were usually developed for a single purpose, not addressing interagency collaboration, or rapidly evolving data sources.

On June 14, the White House published the National Biosurveillance Science and Technology Roadmap to identify and prioritize research and development toward the goals of the strategy. One of the objectives in the R
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