Technical Description of the Distribute Project: A Community-based Syndromic Surveillance System Implementation

William Lober, Blaine Reeder, Ian Painter, Debra Revere, Paul F Bugni, Justin McReynolds, Kim Goldov, Eric Webster, Donald Olson


This paper describes the design of a syndromic surveillance system implemented for community-based monitoring of influenza-like illness. The system began as a collaboration between colleagues from state and large metropolitan area health jurisdictions, academic institutions, and the non-profit, International Society for Disease Surveillance. Over the six influenza seasons from 2006 to 2012, the system was automated and enhanced, with new features and infrastructure, and the resulting, reliable, enterprise grade system supported peer comparisons between 44 state and local public health jurisdictions who voluntarily contributed summarized data on influenza-like illness and gastrointestinal syndromes. The system was unusual in that it addressed the needs of a widely distributed, voluntary, community engaged in real-time data integration to support operational public health.

Keywords: syndromic surveillance, secondary use of health data, Internet, public health standards, surveillance practice

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Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 *