The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) implemented state and district surveillance nodes in a central aggregated node in the National Capital Region (NCR). Within this network, de-identified health information is integrated with other indicator data and is made available to local and state health departments for enhanced desease surveillance. Aggregated data made available to the central node enable public health practitioners to observe abnormal behavior of health indicators spanning jurisdictions and view geographical spread of outbreaks across regions.
Forming a steering committee, the NCR Enhanced Surveillance Operating Group (ESOG), was key to overcoming several data-sharing issues. The committee was composed of epidemiologists and key public health practitioners from the 3 jurisdictions. The ESOG facilitated early system development and signing of the cross-jurisdictional data-sharing agreement. This agreement was the first of its kind at the time and provided the legal foundation for sharing aggregated health information across state/distric boundaries for electronic disease surveillance.
Electronic surveillance system for the early notification of community-based epidemics provides NCR users with a comprehensive regional view to ascertain the spread of disease, estimate resource needs, and implement control measures. This article aims to describe the creation of the NCR Disease Surveillance Network as an exceptional example of cooperation and potential that exists for regional surveillance activities.