About this Project

The BioSense Program provides local, state, and federal partners a timely regional and national picture of trends in disease syndromes and situation awareness. BioSense is in the midst of a redesign that shifts the program's focus to meet the needs of stakeholders and end users in state and local health departments, CDC programs, hospitals, and other federal programs (i.e. DoD and VA) to improve regional and national coverage.

BioSense Collaboration Site

We invite all interested stakeholders to join the BioSense Collaboration Site (centerpiece of the redesign). This site is the quickest way to get information about the redesigned program and features interactive elements designed to foster and encourage transparent information exchange and allow stakeholders to: (1) follow the BioSense Redesign project as it progresses; (2) provide input; and (3) communicate and exchange ideas with one another and with the BioSense Redesign team.

Why Redesign?

BioSense is undergoing a redesign to improve features such as centralized data mining at a "distant" federal facility and address concerns that the system could not meet its objective to provide early warning or detect local outbreaks (i.e., 2001 anthrax outbreak). The redesign will also address challenges with false alarms and associated costs to resource-strapped state and local health departments in response to externally generated false alerts.

In the past, these shortcomings resulted in many state and local departments utilizing their own biosurveillance systems - to have more control over how data was collected, analyzed, and displayed. Thus, the new BioSense or BioSense 2.0 will be distributed in nature; incorporate state and local public health partner input; and promote a proactive, collaborative, and transparent community-owned environment.

BioSense Program Redesign

With input and guidance from local, state, and federal partners, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (OSELS) is working with RTI International to redesign the BioSense Program. RTI (working under CDC contract number GS10F0097L) is an independent, nonprofit research institute providing research and technical expertise to governments and businesses in health and pharmaceuticals, surveys and statistics, advanced technology, and other services and areas. For more information, visit www.rti.org.

The goal of the redesign and redirection effort is to be able to provide nationwide and regional situation awareness for all-hazard health threats (beyond bioterrorism) and to support national, state, and local responses to those threats.  By integrating local and state-level data into a cohesive “picture,” BioSense will improve its utility for state and local stakeholders and provide multipurpose value in timely data for regional (i.e., multistate) and national view of multiple health outcomes and syndromes.  This will be accomplished through inclusion of more jurisdictions and distributed ED coverage across the US.

The focus of the redesign is to:

  • Improve coordination and links between existing state and local disease surveillance monitoring systems and BioSense
  • Build health monitoring infrastructure and human capacity where needed to ensure rapid and enhanced interchange of timely information

The key components of the BioSense program redesign include:

  • Help build health monitoring infrastructure and human capacity where needed at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels
  • Facilitate the interchange of information that can be used to coordinate responses and monitor events routinely and during an event
  • Retain the original purpose of BioSense to detect and characterize early events (or threats) by building on existing systems and programs
  • Expand the utility of BioSense data to multi-use [and all-hazard] beyond early event detection and to contribute information for:
    • public health situation awareness
    • routine public health practice
    • improved health outcomes and public health
  • Improve the ability to detect emergency health threats by supporting the enhancement of systems to signal alerts for potential problems

Activities planned for the redesign process include the following: