Active BACTerial Core surveillance FACTs (BACT FACTs): An interactive, web-based tool to analyze, visualize and share ABCs data

Project Name: Active BACTerial Core surveillance FACTs (BACT FACTs): An interactive, web-based tool to analyze, visualize and share ABCs data

Project Status: Proposed

Point of Contact: Gayle Langley

Center: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

Keywords: Interactive, Web-based, Visualization tool

Project Description: Please describe your project and the area of exploration. Potential project ideas can include, but are not limited to: extensions to existing tools, processes, and systems; evaluations and assessments; experiments or tests; prototypes; pilots; and development of minimum viable products to explore multi-staged projects. Please include at least:

  • Impact of potential impact of project if successful
  • Applicability of project for reuse within other public health programs
  • Methodology and planned implementation of project
  • Innovation of expected results with how you will determine overall project success
  • Stakeholders of project including STLT, Academic, extramural programs

We are designing and would like to develop an interactive, web-based tool that would allow us to analyze, visualize and share Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs) data within CDC, with our Emerging Infectious Program (EIP) partners and with external stakeholders (e.g. academic and clinical researchers, other public health practitioners, pharmaceutical companies, interested citizens). Since 1995, ABCs, a core EIP activity, has conducted population-based surveillance (now at 10 domestic sites) for severe bacterial infections that are major causes of sepsis and meningitis in the community. We generate epidemiologic and laboratory data that have been used to develop, evaluate and produce guidelines for vaccines and other preventive measures, to gauge progress toward Healthy People goals, to track antimicrobial resistance, to understand risk factors for disease and to respond to public health emergencies.

While our scientific agenda has advanced throughout the years, our data management and analysis systems are similar to those used 20 years ago. Datasets are created every other month by a single person and distributed to a select few coordinators who manage the data for each of the seven pathogens under ABCs. While most of the numbers we generate are “simple” ratios or proportions, we rely on statistical support to generate incidence and mortality rates from SAS programs. In addition to being relatively inaccessible, the programs are also rigid—only allowing for analyses of pre-selected variables. Requests for data can often take weeks to fulfill because programs must be rewritten to fulfill specific criteria. We would like to create an interactive, customizable web-based system that would combine ABCs data (epidemiologic and laboratory) and outside data sources (e.g. US Census, National Health Interview Survey) to generate rates and produce graphs, charts and pictures that will help us more easily visualize our data so we can answer important public health questions more efficiently and effectively. One of the focuses will be on displaying antimicrobial resistance trends across the network. The tool would also be used to generate customizable datasets and to routinely track case counts and other measures to ensure data quality. It potentially could also be used by ABCs sites to validate and load data into the system. The application would accept various formats of data including XML, JSQN, SQL, SAS and CSV. We envision the entire tool to be readily accessible to CDC and other EIP users when logged in the system as a “CDC employee” or “EIP member” and a subset of the tool to be accessible to external stakeholders. The ABCs program will have an administrative interface allowing them to choose which data elements are available to which audience(s). We have already started designing the tool (see concept map below) with epidemiologic, IT specialist, data management and statistical support, but require a dedicated web developer to make it a reality.

On our team, we have a Business Analyst and Epidemiologists that will help develop the requirements for the tool. We would use the developer to design the user interface and backend. We plan on using an iterative model to build the tool—asking for early prototypes that could then be refined before being fully implemented. We believe we would need developer services for 5-6 months stretched over the calendar year. We hope to launch the site by the end of 2016.

Success would be measured by having at least two prototypes built and successfully launched. We will start by building a site to generate the data in our Surveillance Reports ( The next prototype will add on additional graphics to visualize trends in antimicrobial resistance. If successful, this tool would allow us to answer important policy questions in a more effective, efficient and timely manner. An enhanced visualization tools may also help us ask and answer more insightful questions. The tool would be used to improve how we share data with outside researchers, fulfilling another important agency priority. We hope this tool will serve as a model for how other EIPs activities and surveillance systems can better analyze, visualize and share their data.

For more information about this project, please contact the CHIIC at or Maria Michaels at

Page last reviewed: February 15, 2019