Magazine article Security Management

Detecting and Predicting Disease from Bioterror. (Tech Talk)

Magazine article Security Management

Detecting and Predicting Disease from Bioterror. (Tech Talk)

Article excerpt

PHARS (public-health alert and response system) is bioterror alert software that, like a similar tool called LEADERS (see page 40), integrates data analysis and visualization technology. This application from illumitek, Inc., is still in the prototype phase. It was built to fit a series of data collection and management standards created by the CDC known as NEDSS (the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System).

The PHARS application also tracks symptoms reported by hospitals, but it offers some additional capabilities. For example, it can take point-of-sale data from drugstores to allow public-health officials to notice any unusual sales trends that might be indicative of a bioterror attack. A sudden jump in sales of a medicine that treats symptoms similar to those of smallpox might alert officials to look closely at local hospital data, says Taylor Stockwell, illumitek's director of marketing.

The value of data mining is not just looking at historical data," Stockwell says. "It's also about having a system that can predict. …

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