Physiological monitoring systems assess aspects of human performance and either respond with a corrective action, or alert a human being to do so. Physiologic monitors can measure and record temperature, heart rate, respiration, alertness, and activity.
We will consider the potential of these systems to assist in biosurveillance by equipping a "sentinel population.'' A sentinel population is any group of people who are willing to participate in a monitoring scheme. Security professionals, for example, could act as the proverbial canary in the mineshaft in a variety of settings. Examples of this approach could include advance members of the president's Secret Service detail, or other executive protection forces, or security agents patrolling special events (e.g., the Republican National Convention). In the latter case, we imagine that devices worn unobtrusively by the sentinels would provide early warning of spiking fevers, tachycardia or other signs arising in a fraction of the sentinel population. The information transmitted automatically from these sentinels would be timely.
To offer this capability, the equipment worn must be able to carry out accurate measurements while withstanding, and compensating for, the activities of an active subject. For example, a thermometer worn on the body must be able to compensate for clothing, weather, and exercise.
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