Knowledge based public health situation awareness

Parsa Mirhaji, Jiajie Zhang, Arunkumar Srinivasan, Rachel L. Richesson, Jack W. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


There have been numerous efforts to create comprehensive databases from multiple sources to monitor the dynamics of public health2 and most specifically to detect the potential threats of bioterrorism before widespread dissemination. But there are not many evidences for the assertion that these systems are timely and dependable, or can reliably identify man made from natural incident1,3. One must evaluate the value of so called 'syndromic surveillance systems' along with the costs involved in design, development, implementation and maintenance of such systems and the costs involved in investigation of the inevitable false alarms1. In this article we will introduce a new perspective to the problem domain with a shift in paradigm from 'surveillance' toward 'awareness'. As we conceptualize a rather different approach4,5 to tackle the problem, we will introduce a different methodology in application of information science, computer science, cognitive science and human-computer interaction concepts in design and development of so called 'public health situation awareness systems'. We will share some of our design and implementation concepts for the prototype system that is under development in the Center for Biosecurity and Public Health Informatics Research, in the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The system is based on a knowledgebase containing ontologies with different layers of abstraction, from multiple domains, that provide the context for information integration, knowledge discovery, interactive data mining, information visualization, information sharing and communications. The modular design of the knowledgebase and its knowledge representation formalism enables incremental evolution of the system from a partial system to a comprehensive knowledgebase of 'public health situation awareness' as it acquires new knowledge through interactions with domain experts or automatic discovery of new knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-209
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue numberPART 1
StatePublished - Dec 20 2004
Externally publishedYes
EventSensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C31) Technologies for Homeland Security and Homeland Defense III - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: Apr 12 2004Apr 16 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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