given situation is similar to a past situation, which is where perception and knowledge can go astray.
Tan observed that data emerge from different systems and with different speeds and have different levels of reliability. When data are shared, the uncertainties associated with those data need to be shared as well.
Annelli said that gaps in information sharing need to be identified before they can be filled. During this process, one question that must be asked is whether a gap exists because an existing system broke down. Addressing that question would help determine the need for CONOPS in different agencies.
Wagner replied that it is not yet clear what data need to be collected. Until people have a chance to build an end-to-end system that leads from data to decisions, the necessary links will not be fully known.
Ackelsberg also emphasized the possibility of catastrophic events—a “bio-Katrina type of situation.” The needs in such a situation would be extraordinarily different. “I don’t think any local entity, any local jurisdiction, or any combination of the agencies in a local setting is going to be able to immediately address the analytic requirements for that.” The analytic capacity still needs to be built at the local level to assess what would be needed in such a situation.
Finally, Sally Phillips, Department of Homeland Security, thanked the speakers and workshop participants for their contributions. The challenges are enormous, she said, not only in structuring a biosurveillance system but in funding it. But “we have learned a lot of lessons today and yesterday, and we have some great ideas on the table and some good analysis.” Biosurveillance is needed, she said. People already use on a daily basis the information that exists, and decision makers crave more information. “We need to figure out what is the next step” while keeping the ultimate goal in mind, she said, “because this is certainly going to be longer than a short-haul fix.”