Influenza-like illness (ILI) data is collected via an Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance Network at the state level. Because participation is voluntary, locations of the sentinel providers may not reflect optimal geographic placement. This study analyzes two different geographic placement schemes - a maximal coverage model (MCM) and a K-median model, two location-allocation models commonly used in geographic information systems. The MCM chooses sites in areas with the densest population. The K-median model chooses sites which minimize the average distance traveled by individuals to their nearest site. We have previously shown how a placement model can be used to improve population coverage for ILI surveillance in Iowa when considering the sites recruited by the Iowa Department of Public Health. We extend this work by evaluating different surveillance placement algorithms with respect to outbreak intensity and timing (i.e., being able to capture the start, peak and end of the influenza season).
To evaluate the performance of several sentinel surveillance site placement algorithms for ILI surveillance systems. We explore how these different approaches perform by capturing both the overall intensity and timing of influenza activity in the state of Iowa.