Outbreak and Disease Surveillance

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From Humanitarian-FOSS Project Development Site

Open-Source Spying

The Open Source movement has expanded into many area, including sites like Wikipedia, government spying techniques, and surveying disease outbreaks around the country. In Clive Thompson's article, "Open-Source Spying" in the New York Times, the idea of government agencies using blogs and wikis was presented, and might have amazing effects. It would allow for the separate agencies, like the F.B.I and C.I.A, as well as the N.S.A, to communicate effectively and quickly, allowing information to be complied in a way that will help analysts "connect the dots". As Thompson mentioned, Calvin Andrus--chief technology officer of the Center for Mission Innovation at the C.I.A--argued that "Pieces of intel would receive attention merely because other analysts found them interesting. This grass-roots process...suited the modern intelligence challenge of sifting through thousands of disparate clues: if a fact or observation struck a chord with enough analysts, it would snowball into popularity, no matter what their supervisors thought." The implementation of this could prevent future 9/11's.


Another area of national defense is disease control. Compiling data regarding outbreaks of the flu or other epidemics could prepare the public and the hospitals, and produce warnings quickly. Such a compilation exists in the RODS Open Source Project. Starting in 1999, and entering the open source world in 2003, RODS uses open source software to monitor and analyze disease surveillance data. The "RODS Open Source Project is intended to be a collaboration involving academia, open source developers, health departments, hospitals and medical centers, foundations, and industries whose objective is to rapidly increase the level of deployment of syndromic surveillance by removing one of the barriers to progress--namely the availability of high quality, well supported software" [1]. The RODS software could help public health officials locate an outbreak. "A spike in hospital admissions from a neighborhood, or a message that something is strange by RODS standards, could merely indicate the presence of a flu bug -- or it could mean that a chemical or biological weapon has been released", making the importance of such a community unbelievably widespread.

References and External Links

[1]: The RODS Open Source Project: Open Source Outbreak and Disease Surveillance Software: Introduction

NetEpi.org: "Free, open source, network-enabled tools for epidemiology and public health practice"

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