Pre-Conference Track Descriptions – International Society for Disease Surveillance


Biosurveillance for Beginners – First Forays Into Biosurveillance

This training will provide exposure to key processes central to biosurveillance and serve to orient those who are new to the field. The objective is to enable participants to better understand and apply electronic health data for public health surveillance. This track includes an exploration of the utility of free text and coded data for syndrome definitions, case finding, and cluster detection and introduction to the tools in use for these processes. Participants will also be introduced to tools that integrate, process, and analyse these data for informed and meaningful decision-making. Additional presentations will focus on systems for surveillance and a demonstration of the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics (ESSENCE).

Introduction to R for Biosurveillance

The public health workforce (public health practitioners, healthcare providers, and academicians in research settings) require data, as well as analysis and visualization of the data, to enable and provide informed decision-making, whether clinically-based or policy-based. Continued budgetary restrictions and funding cuts have hindered the ability to purchase commercial products and applications; therefore, public health has a strong need for exposure to and training with open-source products and tools for data collection, analysis, and visualization. R is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. It provides a variety of statistical and graphical techniques and is extensible. As an open-source product, R is freely available, making it optimal for use in a variety of settings. This training is a hands-on introduction to R for epidemiology, biosurveillance, and high-quality data visualizations.

Intermediate R: Practical Tools for the R User

Public health agencies are continually being asked to do more with less. As such, R is being used more by practitioners as a free, yet powerful, replacement for more traditional statistical software. In the Intermediate track, attendees will build upon basic skills in R to learn many of the tools from the “Hadleyverse” suite of packages (dplyr, lubridate, tidyr, readr, lubridate, ggplot2/ggvis). We will also go over two major tools of reporting out results in R: RMarkdown and RShiny. After going over the basics of each package, attendees will be broken into groups and work on a publicly available dataset to work towards developing an actual product. This training is intended for users who already have a basic understanding of R and are seeking additional training in using R for epidemiology, biosurveillance, and high-quality data visualizations.

Biosurveillance in the One Health Context

Today, 70% of emerging diseases are zoonotic and surveillance practitioners need to better understand One Health approaches that integrate human, animal, and environmental surveillance. This interactive workshop will help build the knowledge and skills required to help operationalize One Health Surveillance (HS) in their home state or country. Participants will learn the benefits, barriers, and actions needed to implement HS; review a zoonotic case study; and then work in groups to discuss their own situations and create a plan of action for their own jurisdictions.

Biosurveillance Emerging Topics – Latest Explorations in Data Science and Health Security

This track is designed for participants who have some or significant experience working with syndromic surveillance systems and will cover a variety of topics, including the surveillance tracking of public health inequities, the future of Natural Language Processing (NLP), new uses for surveillance data modelling, and the matching of analytic methods to meet public health surveillance needs. Whereas NLP refers to human-computer interaction, Data modelling refers to a scientific research framework of investigating biological questions using mathematical models, data, and powerful statistical methods. Short presentations of these topics will lead into an opportunity for participants to discuss these important issues with experts and their peers from around the world.