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April 22, 2004
For Immediate Release

National Capital Region Launches Area Disease Reporting Network

Representatives from the National Capital Region — including the District of Columbia and counties in the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia — met today at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to kick off the NCR Disease Surveillance Network project. The kickoff meeting brought together senior health and homeland security leaders, identified various roles, and introduced key researchers and members of the Steering Committee.

The project's goal is to establish a regional surveillance network for the early detection and notification of abnormal disease events that could cause high morbidity and mortality in DC, Maryland and Virginia populations. To do this, the system collects data containing health indicators, performs analysis, and notifies users when statistical anomalies occur.

The network will establish independent surveillance nodes — operation centers — in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, with a central regional integration node operated by APL in Laurel, Md., for performing surveillance across jurisdictional boundaries. Operating 365 days a year, these nodes will provide information to local public health departments. Jurisdictions have been meeting to determine how data, that has had personal information removed, will be shared across jurisdictional boundaries.

The network will be assembled from technology developed by APL in collaboration with DoD's Global Emerging Infectious System under the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE)-NCR test bed which has been operating as a pilot since the fall of 2001.

Project goals include:

  • Develop and implement protocols for a coordinated disease surveillance system
  • Establish the network and operate the central regional surveillance node
  • Evaluate network performance and develop needed improvements
  • Provide updates to the network based on operational experience and ongoing disease surveillance research performed by APL.

"Establishing this network is a crucial step toward insuring the safety of citizens living in the National Capital Region," says APL's Joe Lombardo, who led development of the ESSENCE system.

Media Contacts
Helen Worth
Phone: 240-228-5113
or 443-778-5113
District of Columbia
Vera Jackson
E-mail: vjackson@dchealth.com
Montgomery Co.
Kathy Hurt-Mullen
E-mail: Kathy.hurt-mullen@montgomerycountymd.gov.
Maryland DHMH
JB Hanson
E-mail: Jhanson@dhmh.state.md.us
Prince Georges Co.
Pat Sullivan
(301) 883-7851
E-mail: pdsullivan@co.pg.md.us
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
Jeanne Saddler
E-mail: Jsaddler@mwcog.org
Virginia Dept. of Health
Trina Lee
(804) 864-7008
E-mail: Trina.Lee@vdh.virginia.gov

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.