Syndromic Surveillance for New Users

What to know

CDC wants to build a state-of-the art public health workforce. To work with syndromic data, you’ll need to know what these data represent so your interpretation is accurate. You’ll also need to understand the strengths and limitations of syndromic surveillance. NSSP offers many avenues of support to acquire next-generation skills.

First steps for new users

We recommend that all new users get connected with the syndromic surveillance community. Collaboration is crucial to help us eliminate siloes and aid decision-making as we work together to protect our communities through improved readiness and response to health threats.

Site administrators work with NSSP to provide data access

The BioSense Platform is a cloud-based early detection and monitoring system that integrates public health data from many sources. To request access to the platform and its tools, reach out to the site administrator at your state or local health department. They serve as liaisons between users and NSSP. Site administrators can also answer questions and provide resources.

If more help is needed, you can also reach out to us at nssp@cdc.gov.

An excellent resource for new and current site administrators is the Ultimate Guide for Site Administrators.

Connect with others in the syndromic surveillance community

We recommend that all news users join the NSSP Community of Practice and attend the monthly webinars. You will have access to an extensive Knowledge Repository, as well as opportunities to network—including through the Slack® Workspace communication tool.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter, the NSSP Update, and explore our onboarding resources.

Technical resources available‎

Find tools to help you engage with NSSP platforms and grow your syndromic surveillance expertise—including job aids, manuals, data dictionaries, training, FAQs, and more.

More about syndromic surveillance

Syndromic data are captured in near real-time. Because of the immediacy of syndromic data, you’ll need a strong understanding of what these data represent so that your interpretation is accurate. You’ll also need to understand the strengths and limitations of syndromic surveillance12 before integrating it fully into daily practice.

Syndromic surveillance training courses

Public health professionals who have joined the NSSP Community of Practice are invited to access training offered in partnership with the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). First, be sure to create a CSTE Learn account.

You can also download the How We Conduct Syndromic Surveillance Infographic [PDF – 837 KB]

ESSENCE training

The BioSense Platform hosts a series of secure, web-based tools, including ESSENCE3, which allows users to collaborate; investigate changes in trends; and analyze, visualize and share data.  Access ESSENCE training.

Rnssp R training

The Rnssp R package facilitates access to ESSENCE via a secure and simple interface, with methods that streamline the data pull. Please find Rnssp R training resources here: Posit Workbench and SAS Studio.

What others are doing

One of our goals is to promote collaboration and best practices. We often feature examples of what others are doing to advance syndromic surveillance:

  1. Overview of Syndromic Surveillance What is Syndromic Surveillance? (cdc.gov)
  2. Syndromic Surveillance on the Epidemiologist's Desktop: Making Sense of Much Data (cdc.gov)
  3. ESSENCE (Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics) is the National Syndromic Surveillance Program's secure, web-based tool to operationalize the public health surveillance workflow. ESSENCE allows analysts, epidemiologists, and others across all levels of public health to collaborate, investigate changes in trends, and to analyze, visualize and share data.