2016 International Society for Disease Surveillance Conference New Frontiers in Surveillance: Data Science and Health Security

Brian E. Dixon


The International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) held its
fifteenth annual conference in Atlanta, GA, from December 6-8, 2016.
Since 2001, individuals interested in sharing and learning emerging
trends in surveillance research and practice have found the ISDS
Annual Conference a unique forum to advance their knowledge in the
discipline of disease surveillance. The 15th ISDS conference received
a total of 233 abstracts from 23 countries. From the submissions, 189
(81%) were accepted for presentation at the conference as an oral
presentation (N=96) or poster (N=93).
The theme for the 15th annual conference was New Frontiers in
Surveillance: Data Science and Health Security. The theme united
two dominant trends in public health surveillance: 1) a growing desire
to extract knowledge from increasing volumes of structured and
unstructured data available from health information systems; and 2)
increased pressure on nations to strengthen their capacity for disease
surveillance and response to outbreaks when and where they occur
across the globe. In addition to the major themes of the conference,
abstracts were accepted in additional tracks that remain important to
the practice of public health around the world: One Health uniting
animal and human health; Methodological advances in applied
epidemiology; Public health informatics; Public health policy; and
Biosurveillance practice.
As usual, accepted abstracts for the 2016 ISDS Conference
span the breadth of surveillance practice around the globe. There
are timely abstracts on the detection and response to vector-borne
diseases such as Zika virus and chikungunya across the Americas,
as well as abstracts on the surveillance of opioid abuse observed
in many parts of the U.S. Other abstracts cover the surveillance of
non-communicable diseases that are now the leading causes of death
globally. Additionally, some abstracts focus on capacity building
within low resource settings on multiple continents to enhance global
health security. While other abstracts describe the impact of health
information technology (or eHealth) policies on surveillance practice
at local, national, or regional levels. And still other abstracts contain
emerging, novel methods that advance our understanding of how
to analyze “Big” data or reduce the messiness associated with realworld
surveillance data. Together these abstracts represent the broad,
diverse and interesting nature of surveillance practice. Furthermore,
the abstracts represent important work being done in high income
countries like the U.S., Canada and the U.K. as well as critical work
being done in low-and-middle income nations such as Nigeria,
Pakistan, and Sierra Leone.
I wish to thank the dedicated members of the Scientific Programming
Committee (SPC) and ISDS staff who helped to manage the process of
selecting this year’s abstracts for presentation. These individuals are
domain experts across the spectrum of tracks and themes represented
in the program, and their service is much appreciated. The SPC helped
to recruit dozens of public health researchers and practitioners who
also spent time reviewing abstracts. I also thank these volunteers
for contributing to the richness and diversity of this year’s program.
Finally, I wish to thank the Track Chairs who reviewed abstracts and
recruited peers to perform reviews, and whom helped me organize
presentations into meaningful sessions for the final conference
program. Their names are listed in the proceedings to recognize their
selfless service to ISDS and the field of public health surveillance.
I hope that these proceedings help to advance scientific
understanding and the practice of surveillance in public health. Please
use the knowledge herein to improve how you practice or evaluate
surveillance in your jurisdiction. Or you may find ways to apply the
knowledge elsewhere in population health. However you use it, I ask
that you document your lessons or findings and submit to ISDS in
the future to share the outcomes with others. Together we can reduce
the burden of disease and improve health outcomes for populations

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v9i1.7791

Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 * http://ojphi.org