You are here

Theme 3: Enhancing syndromic surveillance for early detection of incidents

At present, anonymised data on attendances to GPs, hospitals, health helplines and similar facilities is brought together by Public Health England to watch for early warning signs that a new outbreak of a disease is under way.

This theme is expanding that work to quantify the ability of existing surveillance systems to detect new outbreaks of disease or covert incidents involving a chemical, biological or radiological agent.

We are also assessing whether new data links or statistical techniques (e.g. Bayesian techniques), or inclusion of new data sources (e.g. social media) can enhance this surveillance.

An important focus is the applicability of syndromic surveillance to incidents occurring in the context of mass gatherings (e.g. major sporting events or festivals), which pose particular challenges for conventional surveillance approaches.

We are also paying close attention to events that are not currently monitored by syndromic surveillance systems.

A series of scenarios is being used to test and compare the ability and speed of specific surveillance techniques to detect a real incident or refute an intelligence-led false alarm about an incident. 

Lead researchers

Dr Iain Lake

Medical geographer and Environmental Scientist/Senior Lecturer

University of East Anglia

Dr Gillian Smith

Consultant Epidemiologist

Public Health England