The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is the lead federal agency for defense against terrorism including biodefense. It plays a focused role in facilitating the development and deployment of air monitoring technology. It is playing a lead role in coordinating the federal effort to integrate intelligence (capability and intent), animal, human, and environmental data to form a coherent situational assessment.
The U.S. Department of Defense plays many biosurveillance roles. Its healthcare system can and does monitor its own bases, workforce, retirees, and dependents. It cooperates with governmental public health to provide data and detection services. It has a longstanding role in the development of sensing technology for biological agents in the environment.
Airplanes, ships, and mass transit systems are important elements in a biosurveillance system due to the concentration of individuals and their ability to quickly disseminate outbreaks between any two cities in the world. The current level of biosurveillance of these systems is low, although governments are actively developing new methods.
The principal role of the World Health Organization in biosurveillance is establishing international regulations and monitoring for disease outbreaks that pose international threats. Its biosurveillance relies on reporting by member states as well as near real time analysis of electronically available new stories and other electronic sources in multiple languages.
This chapter and the preceding seven chapters comprising Part II of this book reviewed the many organizations that participate in biosurveillance—their roles, their information systems, and the data they collect. We devoted this much time and space to this material because anyone functioning in or training for a role in biosurveillance planning/system design should have a working knowledge of these organizations. The roles and responsibilities of these organizations are still evolving; therefore, the information we presented should be understood as a snapshot in time that will likely change, driven by the need for faster and better outbreak detection and characterization as well as advances in technical methods. Additional types of organizations may emerge in the governmental or non-governmental sectors. Nevertheless, the strengths and limitations of the existing organizations and the individuals working within them are important factors to consider when thinking about the biosurveillance process and methods for its improvement.
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