Community of Practice Updates

Updated May 8, 2023

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Policy for Federal Access to NSSP Data

During the November 2022 CoP Monthly meeting, Acting NSSP Lead Karl Soetebier informed the community of efforts to make NSSP data more accessible and to improve collaboration toward common goals.

In early December 2022, Soetebier updated site administrators of NSSP’s ongoing work related to data use. He explained how expanded access to NSSP data during the COVID-19 public health emergency enabled innovation in areas such as trend indicators and classification, anomaly detection, and text mining by age and geography. The ability to work this way routinely, outside the context of a public health emergency, is not permitted by the current data use agreement.

In early 2023, to build on public health response innovations and to continue to enhance data use, CDC has been working on designing a new NSSP agreement that will incorporate lessons learned from the COVID-19 response, enable close collaboration between sites and CDC, enable new innovations and services for sites, maximize responsible use of data and provide timelier synthesis of findings and recommendations, and help respond to the top concerns raised by public health departments in the Review of Federal Access to National Syndromic Surveillance Program Data: Findings and Implementation Strategies.

CDC has made a thoughtful choice to change from a data use agreement (DUA) to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to better reflect the collaborative nature of the agreement. By refocusing the DUA as an MOU, the collaborative and participatory goals of the partnership across federal, state, and local public health authorities become more transparent.

To inform community members throughout this process, we will make a new Policy for Federal Access to NSSP Data web page available in spring 2023. It will contain information on the development and long-term benefits we hope to achieve, so stay tuned!

Making the Right Data Available to Inform Decision-Making

Federal Access to National Syndromic Surveillance Program Data: Review and Implementation Strategies.

In February 2023, The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) posted the Review of Federal Access to National Syndromic Surveillance Program Data: Findings and Implementation Strategies.

CSTE collaborated with CDC and Texas A&M University School of Public Health to develop this report. They brought together epidemiologists in leadership positions or with decision-making power who represented state, tribal, local or territorial (STLT) public health departments to identify considerations and implementation strategies for permitting federal access to NSSP data.​

For additional context and details about the process and findings, listen to author/contractor Cason Schmit’s presentation for the October 2022 NSSP CoP monthly call. Please direct questions about the report to

NSSP CoP Monthly Meeting

The National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) Community of Practice (CoP) met on March 22, 2023. Attendance has grown! We’re averaging 213 participants on the monthly meetings. Recordings for CoP monthly calls are posted in the Knowledge Repository.

Call Recording

The March 22, 2023, meeting recording has been posted. The agenda follows:

Welcome/Introduction of New NSSP CoP Core Committee Deputy Chair Gabriel Ann Haas: Anna Frick (AK)
CSTE Announcements: James Muncy (CSTE), Becky Lampkins (CSTE)
NSSP Updates: Karl Soetebier (CDC NSSP)
Update “NSSP Mortality Data: What’s Going On?”: Edward Lockhart (CDC), Richard Raines (AK)
Demo “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Dashboard”: Elizabeth Swedo (CDC), Kayla Anderson (CDC)
Site-level Respiratory Dashboard Demo: Michael Sheppard (CDC)

NSSP Update

Karl Soetebier, acting NSSP lead, recapped recent activities:

  • The March 14, 2023, BioSense Platform release 2.9 was successful. Many thanks to everyone who participated in user acceptance testing. Key enhancements to the Access & Management Center included improved application reporting and user management features. This release also included improvements to the Data Quality Dashboard version 2, particularly the data quality alert functionality. Some of these capabilities will be demonstrated in an upcoming CoP call. For details, see the archived March issue of NSSP Update.
  • Community members may have seen the news about an outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) identified March 21, 2023, in Tanzania. There is a Slack post in the general channel for everyone who wants to discuss searches that they’re considering for use in the context of this disease for travel-related queries or other ideas. We would appreciate your comments. (More on MVD.) [Editorial note: A prior outbreak of MVD was also detected in Equatorial Guinnea and an alert issued for this rare and deadly disease.]

Reminders and Announcements

  • Welcome to new NSSP CoP Core Committee Deputy Chair, Gabriel (Gabe) Ann Haas (KS)! Gabe was nominated and selected in the recent ad-hoc Deputy Chair election. She has held the position of Epidemiologist and Program Manager for the Kansas Syndromic Surveillance Program (KSSP) with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment since 2019. Gabe is passionate about operationalizing syndromic surveillance data for public health action and is always thinking about new use cases for syndromic data.
  • New Workgroup! A Public Use Dataset Workgroup is being formed to:
    • Explore the many questions and considerations for public presentation and release of syndromic surveillance data, and
    • Develop a collective response informed by the community members with a deep understanding of these data.
  • Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE)/CDC NSSP Model Syndromic Surveillance (SyS) Training Series: This training series is designed for new SyS analysts and data consumers to establish foundational concepts of SyS methodology, conceptualize new SyS public health applications, and confidently act on SyS analyses. The series was delivered live in fall 2022 and is now available in an on-demand format on CSTE Learn. NSSP CoP members can access and complete the training for free by creating a CSTE Learn account. The training can be found here.
  • Join the Community and a subcommittee! Our Community is a great way to meet others working in syndromic surveillance and advance the work of syndromic surveillance at all jurisdictional levels. Become part of the Community or update your NSSP CoP membership to join a subcommittee here. Encourage others to join, too!
    • Join and participate in the Slack workspace. This space is full of rich discussion among colleagues. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with your peers outside of CoP meetings.
    • Submit success stories to be featured in NSSP Update and on the NSSP CoP website. You do great work every day that we want to highlight.
    • Submit a topic for future NSSP CoP monthly calls. These calls are meant for the community, and we want to know what is most important to you.
  • CSTE Annual Conference 2023: Meet, build relationships, and network with colleagues and experts in areas including informatics, infectious diseases, substance use, chronic disease, and injury control. Join more than 2,500 public health epidemiologists from across the nation in workshops, plenary sessions, oral breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, and poster presentations. The plan is to hold conference sessions in person; however, CSTE will monitor circumstances and public health recommendations of group gatherings.
    • June 25–29, 2023, in Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Registration is now open! To register and learn more, visit the conference site.


Join the NSSP CoP Slack Workspace
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It’s easy to join. And the community is always exchanging ideas, exploring possibilities, and discussing topics relevant to today’s surveillance challenges.

So what are your colleagues discussing?

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  • #data-sharing
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  • #race-and-ethnicity
  • #random
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  • #spherr
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Find and Join Channels

  1. Hover cursor over “Channels” on left side of Slack space.
  2. Click the three dots icon that appears next to “Channels” titled “Section Options.”
  3. Select “Browse Channels.”
  4. Find and join any channel that looks interesting!