Proc. SPIE. 5778, Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense IV
KEYWORDS: Information fusion, Cognitive modeling, Data modeling, Surveillance, Surveillance systems, Data processing, Telecommunications, Analytical research, Systems modeling, Situational awareness sensors
September 11 2001 attacks and following Anthrax mailings introduced emergent need for developing technologies that can distinguish between man made and natural incidents in the public health level. With this objective in mind, government agencies started a funding effort to foster the design, development and implementation of such systems on a wide scale. But the outcomes have not met the expectations set by the resources invested. Multiple elements explain this phenomenon: As it has been frequent with technology, introduction of new surveillance systems to the workflow equation has occurred without taking into consideration the need for understanding and inclusion of deeper personal, psychosocial, organizational and methodological concepts. The environment, in which these systems are operating, is complex, highly dynamic, uncertain, risky, and subject to intense time pressures. Such 'difficult' environments are very challenging to the human as a decision maker.
In this paper we will challenge these systems from the perspective of human factors design. We will propose employment of systematic situational awareness research for design and implementation of the next generation public health preparedness infrastructures. We believe that systems designed based on results of such analytical definition of the domain enable public health practitioners to effectively collect the most important cues from the environment, process, interpret and understand the information in the context of organizational objectives and immediate tasks at hand, and use that understanding to forecast the short term and long term impact of the events in the safety and well being of the community.
There have been numerous efforts to create comprehensive databases from multiple sources to monitor the dynamics of public health and most specifically to detect the potential threats of bioterrorism before widespread dissemination. But there are not many evidences for the assertion that these systems are timely and dependable, or can reliably identify man made from natural incident. One must evaluate the value of so called 'syndromic surveillance systems' along with the costs involved in design, development, implementation and maintenance of such systems and the costs involved in investigation of the inevitable false alarms1.
In this article we will introduce a new perspective to the problem domain with a shift in paradigm from 'surveillance' toward 'awareness'. As we conceptualize a rather different approach to tackle the problem, we will introduce a different methodology in application of information science, computer science, cognitive science and human-computer interaction concepts in design and development of so called 'public health situation awareness systems'. We will share some of our design and implementation concepts for the prototype system that is under development in the Center for Biosecurity and Public Health Informatics Research, in the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The system is based on a knowledgebase containing ontologies with different layers of abstraction, from multiple domains, that provide the context for information integration, knowledge discovery, interactive data mining, information visualization, information sharing and communications. The modular design of the knowledgebase and its knowledge representation formalism enables incremental evolution of the system from a partial system to a comprehensive knowledgebase of 'public health situation awareness' as it acquires new knowledge through interactions with domain experts or automatic discovery of new knowledge.
Proc. SPIE. 5434, Multisensor, Multisource Information Fusion: Architectures, Algorithms, and Applications 2004
KEYWORDS: Information fusion, Cognitive modeling, Computing systems, Video surveillance, Surveillance, Statistical methods, Performance modeling, Systems modeling, Prototyping, Information visualization
We propose a knowledge-based public health situation awareness system. The basis for this system is an
explicit representation of public health situation awareness concepts and their interrelationships. This representation is
based upon the users’ (public health decision makers) cognitive model of the world, and optimized towards the efficacy
of performance and relevance to the public health situation awareness processes and tasks. In our approach, explicit
domain knowledge is the foundation for interpretation of public health data, as apposed to conventional systems where
the statistical methods are the essence of the processes.
Objectives: To develop a prototype knowledge-based system for public health situation awareness and to demonstrate
the utility of knowledge intensive approaches in integration of heterogeneous information, eliminating the effects of
incomplete and poor quality surveillance data, uncertainty in syndrome and aberration detection and visualization of
complex information structures in public health surveillance settings, particularly in the context of bioterrorism (BT)
The system employs the Resource Definition Framework (RDF) and additional layers of more expressive
languages to explicate the knowledge of domain experts into machine interpretable and computable problem-solving
modules that can then guide users and computer systems in sifting through the most “relevant” data for syndrome and
outbreak detection and investigation of root cause of the event.
The Center for Biosecurity and Public Health Informatics Research is developing a prototype knowledge-based
system around influenza, which has complex natural disease patterns, many public health implications, and is a potential
agent for bioterrorism.
The preliminary data from this effort may demonstrate superior performance in information integration,
syndrome and aberration detection, information access through information visualization, and cross-domain
investigation of the root causes of public health events.
On September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists committed a savage act against humanity when they used domestic jetliners to crash into buildings in New York City and Washington, DC, killing thousands of people. In October 2001, coming on the heels of this savagery was another act of barbarity, this time using anthrax, not jetliners, to take innocent lives. Each incident demonstrates the vulnerability of an open society, and Americans are left to wonder how such acts can be prevented. Now, Al Qaeda operatives are reportedly regrouping, recruiting, and changing their tactics to distribute money and messages to operatives around the world. Many experts believe that terrorist attacks are inevitable. No city is immune from attack, and no city is fully prepared to handle the residual impact of a potentially ravaging biological or chemical attack. A survey conducted by the Cable News Network (CNN) in January 2002, studied 30 major US cities, ranking them based on 6 statistical indices of vulnerability. Thirteen cities were deemed better prepared than Houston, 10 were in a similar state of preparedness, and only 6 were less prepared than Houston. Here, we discuss the measures which have taken place in Houston to make it a safer place and which plans are needed for future. Houston experience can be used as a model to develop similar plans for other cities nation-wide.
Public health surveillance is the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of data regarding a health-related event for use in public health action to reduce morbidity and mortality and to improve health by effective response management and coordination. As new pressures for early detection of disease outbreaks have arisen, particularly for outbreaks of possible bioterrorism (BT) origin, and as electronic health data have become increasingly available, so has the demand for public health situation awareness systems. Although these systems are valuable for early warning of public health emergencies, there remains the cost of developing and managing such large and complex systems and of investigating inevitable false alarms. Whether these systems are dependable and cost effective enough and can demonstrate a significant and indispensable role in detection or prevention of mass casualty events of BT origin remains to be proven. This article will focus on the complexities of design, analysis, implementation and evaluation of public health surveillance and situation awareness systems and, in some cases, will discuss the key technologies being studied in Center for Biosecurity Informatics Research at University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston.
Conference Committee Involvement (5)
Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense VII
17 March 2008 | Orlando, Florida, United States
Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense VI
9 April 2007 | Orlando, Florida, United States
Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense V
17 April 2006 | Orlando (Kissimmee), Florida, United States
Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense IV
28 March 2005 | Orlando, Florida, United States
Sensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense III