Following are the descriptions of the five Pre-Conference Programs offered at the 2016 Conference.
Biosurveillance for Beginners – First Forays Into Biosurveillance
This training will provide exposure to key processes central to biosurveillance and serve to orient those who are new to the field. The objective is to enable participants to better understand and apply electronic health data for public health surveillance. This track includes an exploration of the utility of free text and coded data for syndrome definitions, case finding, and cluster detection and introduction to the tools in use for these processes. Participants will also be introduced to tools that integrate, process, and analyse these data for informed and meaningful decision-making. Additional presentations will focus on systems for surveillance and a demonstration of the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-Based Epidemics (ESSENCE).
Introduction to R for Biosurveillance
The public health workforce (public health practitioners, healthcare providers, and academicians in research settings) require data, as well as analysis and visualization of the data, to enable and provide informed decision-making, whether clinically-based or policy-based. Continued budgetary restrictions and funding cuts have hindered the ability to purchase commercial products and applications; therefore, public health has a strong need for exposure to and training with open-source products and tools for data collection, analysis, and visualization. R is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. It provides a variety of statistical and graphical techniques and is extensible. As an open-source product, R is freely available, making it optimal for use in a variety of settings. This training is a hands-on introduction to R for epidemiology, biosurveillance, and high-quality data visualizations.
Intermediate R: Practical Tools for the R User
Public health agencies are continually being asked to do more with less. As such, R is being used more by practitioners as a free, yet powerful, replacement for more traditional statistical software. In the Intermediate track, attendees will build upon basic skills in R to learn many of the tools from the "Hadleyverse" suite of packages (dplyr, lubridate, tidyr, readr, lubridate, ggplot2/ggvis). We will also go over two major tools of reporting out results in R: RMarkdown and RShiny. After going over the basics of each package, attendees will be broken into groups and work on a publicly available dataset to work towards developing an actual product. This training is intended for users who already have a basic understanding of R and are seeking additional training in using R for epidemiology, biosurveillance, and high-quality data visualizations.