As of May 23, 2011 New York City’s parks and beaches are smoke-free.
The NYC Health Department is a world leader in the use of electronic data for disease surveillance. In addition to 12,000 annual laboratory disease reports, the Health Department’s syndromic surveillance systems process nearly 4 million emergency department encounters, 1.5 million calls for emergency medical service ambulance dispatch, 14 million pharmacy transactions, and over 1 million school health nurse visits annually. Each day, the Health Department sifts through thousands of pieces of data looking for trends and unusual disease clusters. This system has proven useful for detecting flu and other respiratory outbreaks, diarrheal outbreaks and may be useful in detecting bioterrorism. These surveillance systems were critical to the Health Department’s ability to effectively monitor the pace and scope of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, when New York City had one of the first and largest outbreaks in the United States. Having been one of the initial health departments to integrate syndromic surveillance, NYC serves as a model that other health jurisdictions continually look to for ways to enhance data analysis and visualization.
With a private grant through the Fund for Public Health in New York, the Health Department’s Bureau of Disease Control will explore and develop new methodologies used in syndromic surveillance to identify potential clusters or outbreaks of disease. This enhanced surveillance may lead to earlier detection of unusual disease patterns, allowing for quicker and more efficient public health responses.