The US Department of Defence’s (DoD) Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is developing a cloud-based biosurveillance ecosystem (BSVE) to help identify incongruity in human and animal diseases.

Collaborating on the programme are government agencies, including the Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JSTO-CBD), the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD) and Homeland Security’s National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC).

DTRA scientist Dr Christopher M. Kiley said: "The BSVE is a virtual, customisable, collaborative system that uses commercial and government technologies to aggregate and analyse data streams.

"The BSVE ingests and uses large data streams such as open-source social media feeds, RSS feeds from news organisations and blogs, disease ontologies, de-identified diagnostic results, historic outbreak data, zoonotic data and non-health data."

"The BSVE is a virtual, customisable, collaborative system that uses commercial and government technologies to aggregate and analyse data streams."

The ecosystem incorporates analytic applications with a user-friendly interface to provide near-real-time modelling, analyses and visual results.

It also supplies automated data and tools to identify aberrations in disease signals through machine learning and natural-language processing algorithms.

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The BVSE will be supported by a number of sources, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OAI), and the programme for monitoring emerging diseases (ProMED).

The programme follows the US DoD’s directive for chem-bio defence missions to research emerging infectious diseases.

Image: A transmission electron micrograph that shows many St. Louis encephalitis virus particles contained inside a central nervous system tissue sample. Photo: courtesy of Dr. Fred Murphy and Sylvia Whitfield / US CDC.