Published on in Vol 9, No 1 (2017):

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

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

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

Authors of this article:

Brian E. Dixon1
The full text of this article is available as a PDF download by clicking here.

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