20 April 2010

Announcing the 2010 Public Health Practice and Research Syndromic Surveillance Challenge

The International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) announces the 2010 Public Health Practice and Research Syndromic Surveillance Challenge:

Consistent with the theme of this year’s annual ISDS conference, the public health and research challenge aims to enhance the synergy between research, informatics, and practice in public health. Through May 15th, 2010, public health practitioners are asked to submit disease surveillance practice and research issues or challenges they are facing (e.g., “I need to have a measure of excess morbidity due to a-b-c,” or “I need a visualization that will help me achieve x-y-z”). Submitted challenges must be those that can be addressed using a dataset that is publicly available, or contributed by the challenger, with Distribute project data being one of the sources. The hope is that novel approaches to visualizing or analyzing data will be developed that can be applied to address challenges that public health practitioners are facing.

ISDS will provide publicly available datasets and will supply a Distribute data set for researchers and informaticists to work with. Individuals or groups will have 3 months to work on solutions to the challenges posted by practitioners. In August, the solutions will be presented to practitioners, who will have an opportunity to assess and comment on the best solution(s) to the challenges they are facing. The Scientific Program Committee will make the final selection of winners.

An important challenge requirement is that all work developed for the contest is clearly and efficiently presented. Those who respond to the technical challenges must be willing to make their work available to the scientific and public health communities at large. Authorship could come in the form of an ISDS online publication (ie, through a Knol or open access online journal), a conference presentation slot, or special speaking engagement depending on the quality of work that the contest delivers.

The Scientific Program Committee hopes that this contest will stimulate interest and will induce contribution of other challenge problems for future consideration.

Data Sets
The contest will provide datasets, with examples including the following:
- Sample Distribute aggregate febrile, respiratory and influenza-like illness (ILI) syndrome file
- Google Flu Trends ILI search query index aggregate file
- US regional aggregate sentinel surveillance ILI file
- Sample datasets provided by challengers, specific to their proposed challenge

Contest Rules
• Public health practitioners who wish to declare a challenge must do so by May 15th. Please send an email to Don Olson with the technical challenge you are posing. Be sure to include as much background information and detail as possible as well as an email address where you can be reached if there are follow-up questions about the issue you are raising. Challenges that cannot be addressed using the available data will be disqualified.
• Those who are interested in developing solutions to the technical challenge must register their intent to participate by May 30th by sending an email to Don Olson. The challenge will proceed only if a sufficient number of people have registered. The contest will be canceled and you will receive notification by June 7th if there has not been sufficient interest. However, if you are still interested in working on a solution to the technical challenges posed, please contact Don for follow-up through the ISDS Research Committee.
• Depending on the number of technical challenges submitted and the number of people who have registered to develop solutions to these challenges, the Scientific Program Committee may choose to narrow down the number of technical challenges. Again, registrants will be notified by June 1st of the final selection of challenges, which will be posted on the ISDS web site.
• Challenge datasets will be sent to the registrants by June 7th, 2010.
• Participants may submit only one solution per challenge. However, there is no limit to the number of challenges that an individual or group can respond to.
• Successful entrants will provide a sufficiently documented and cited, yet brief methodology. Outputs of proprietary or restricted-access methods should not be used.
• Submissions of solutions should be sent to Don Olson by August 16th, 2010. Please include an explanation of the solution that includes sufficient detail of the methods that would allow someone else to implement them. Code and any accompanying output can be included. The submission need not be formatted for a conference abstract or a publication.
Challenge Timeline:
o May 15 -- Last day for submitting a syndromic analytic challenge
o May 30 -- Last day to register to solve the analytic challenge
o June 1 -- Challenges selected by panel announced
o June 7 -- Challenge datasets sent to participants
o Aug. 16 -- Final day for solutions to be submitted
o Sept 17 -- Winner(s) announced

Winner Selection
• Each team will be evaluated separately on each of the technical challenges that practitioners submitted. The solutions will be posted on the ISDS web site in August and public health practitioners will have a three-week period to review the solutions and provide their input to the Scientific Program Committee on the best submission.
• The Scientific Program Committee will judge submissions based on scientific merit, methodology, and the degree to which practitioners feel the solution meets their needs. Winners will be announced by September 17th, 2010.
• In an upcoming meeting, the 2010 ISDS Scientific Program Committee will discuss possible plans for a special session at this year's conference based on the contest. We hope that all of the entrants will be able to attend and participate in the conference which will be held November 30 - December 2, 2010 in Park City, Utah. Please check www.syndromic.org for conference details and updates as they become available.

Winning Prize
Apart from the bragging rights, the team submitting the winning entry will receive a $300 cash prize and the “2010 ISDS Public Health Practice and Research Syndromic Surveillance Challenge Award” at the annual conference in Park City, Utah.

1 comment:

  1. UPDATE: The Public Health Research Challenge has been closed due to an insufficient number of challenge submissions. We thank everyone for their interest, and look forward to working with the community in the future to identify better ways to connect researchers and public health practitioners to find collaborative solutions to disease surveillance questions.