In Atlanta in March, Professor Lightfoot met with two key players in the Intelligence Gathering sector – John Brownstein who runs Healthmap (http://www.healthmap.org/) and Larry Madoff who runs Promed (http://www.promedmail.org/). John and Larry are key contributors to the Global Health Security Initiative and form part of Professor Lightfoot’s Early Alerting Group.
Both Healthmap and Promed are making huge progress in the challenge of disease prevention. Their online systems use a wide range of open sources to track unusual incidences of infection and the result is a uniquely powerful mechanism of surveillance. By providing early warning of outbreaks, public health precautions can be taken quickly in order to prevent epidemic transmission and to save lives.
With so much information out there, the difficulty is how to focus on the important details and facilitate accurate risk assessments. It’s all about the lens that you use, which needs to be part machine and part human. Computer systems easily gather information, but it’s the human interface that is truly able to understand the problem and instinctively move towards hotspots.
The team at NL Associates depend upon intelligence gathering and have a number of systems in place to help track current public health events. We will profile the work of NL Intelligence Strategist Toby in May’s news update.
Next Up: The Kangaroo Group Workshop in Brussels