Outbreak Response: Real-Time Data for Emergencies

When lives are on the line, modernization saves staff time and delivers faster data for decisions

CDC Emergency Operations Center (2020). Photo: James Gathany, CDC

CDC Emergency Operations Center (2020). Photo: James Gathany, CDC

In 2022, we made huge strides toward modernized, cloud-based solutions to meet the needs of current and future emergency responses – no matter how big or small. Below are just a few highlights from our work to ensure we’re ready for whatever comes next.

CDCReady: Raising emergency operations to the next level

In 2022, we completed the first phase of CDCReady, which will provide a new, one-stop-shop to help meet CDC’s readiness and response-related needs. The platform is designed to link and standardize previously siloed preparedness and response systems and processes.

This multi-year project is building a state-of-the-art infrastructure for CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). It will streamline where CDC staff go for response-related information before, during, and after participating in a response, and will support the agency’s 24/7/365 EOC operations.

CDCReady makes use of CDC’s new enterprise data, analytics, and visualization platform. By integrating multiple data sources and systems into a single, cloud-based platform, CDCReady will save staff time and enable the EOC to function with:

  • Flexibility to scale systems according to unique response needs
  • Automation for data sharing and formulating new insights across the agency
  • Security to set user permissions based on data and their “need to know”
  • Reduced costs for operations and maintenance

COVID Data Tracker and HHS Protect: A common picture for real-time decision-making

During the COVID-19 response, we needed a “common operating picture” to ensure data was ready for decision making across the whole of government and across all types of data.

Since the start of the pandemic, the CDC COVID Data Tracker and HHS Protect have been integrating data from hundreds of sources across our nation to make real-time information accessible to decision-makers, researchers, and the public.

To answer this need, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established the HHS Protect ecosystem. It’s a secure platform for collecting, analyzing, and sharing COVID-19 data for the response. On February 18, 2022, management and operational ownership of the platform transitioned to CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. This transition continues the mission to securely process, use, and share more types of data – and more details – than ever before.

The CDC COVID Data Tracker is a publicly available data dashboard established during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide a variety of COVID-19 data for situational awareness and decision-making purposes. Data from 64 feeds are available for researchers, policymakers, and the public, including data visualizations on hospitalizations, testing, therapeutics, and more.

SOURCE: Supporting broader pandemic detection and response

With the surveillance platform of the future, we will be able to use the same system for any size outbreak — from 300 cases to 3 million.

CDC is expanding its platform for multiple respiratory illness surveillance in ways that will better prepare us for the next pandemic or big outbreak – including from diseases like flu, measles, mumps, and Legionnaires’ Disease.

The new System for Outbreak Response, Coordination, and Surveillance (SOURCE) establishes a platform for managing respiratory disease outbreaks. SOURCE can scale up to meet all sizes of emergencies, while making it easier to share data in real-time with state and local partners.

SOURCE will automatically process data that traditionally had to be entered by hand, including reports on routine notifiable diseases, supplemental case data, laboratory results, outbreaks, and real-time investigations. At the heart of SOURCE is a cloud-based CDC data platform called DCIPHER, which is being used to create response-ready systems across the agency and connect to HHS Protect as the common operating picture across the US government.