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Real-time, reusable, dynamic public health surveillance


The resources available in most public health departments are limited. Access to trained technical personnel and stateof-the-art computing resources are also lacking. Customizable off-the-shelf systems contribute only to creation of information silos, are expensive, and not affordable by the limited budget available to the departments of health (only growing worse with the recession). The one thing that has increased is the need for surveillance in more areas, from diseases to environmental exposures to unexpected disasters. One solution would be an adaptable system able to cope with changing requirements while reusing or eliminating infrastructure from both computing hardware and technical personnel.2 We report in this paper an instance of such system as used to perform disease surveillance across the Harris County school system. The system is designed to be customizable for surveillance of any disease, while simultaneously accommodating other use cases like disaster response and registries.


This paper describes use of semantic technologies in combination with Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) to construct dynamic public health surveillance systems1 used for just-in-time monitoring of emerging infectious disease outbreaks. The system was used for surveillance of schools in the third largest population center, Harris County.

Submitted by Magou on