Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is The EU Prepared For A Bio-Terrorist Attack Or Pandemic? (Original Analysis)

Bill Newton-Dunn is a Liberal Democrat from the UK and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). He is also a sophisticated consumer of intelligence products and we have done several projects for him. One of our more recent projects, the EU Bio-Preparedness Project, which a mixed team of Mercyhurst grad and undergrad students developed for Bill as part of my strategic intelligence class, involved estimating the state of preparedness within the EU for either a bio-terror attack or a pandemic within the next 3-5 years (The full Terms Of Reference is here).

The students analyzed the differences and similarities between bio-terror and pandemic type events and then analyzed each country within the EU (plus Norway and Switzerland) along eight different preparedness categories: Bio-surveillance systems in place, health care systems, vaccines and antiviral availability, general planning and coordination efforts, specific bio-terror planning, emergency response systems, private-public sector relationships and border security. Finally, they integrated their individual findings into an EU Preparedness Report and extracted Key Findings designed to answer the questions posed by the Terms Of Reference. As with all of our recent projects, the students used a wiki to help collect, analyze, manage and produce their report.

Their top level findings were interesting (I edited the findings for length and the bold is mine):

  • "As of February 2008, it is unlikely that Member States' biosurveillance and health care systems are well-integrated or completely prepared to respond to a pandemic or an act of bioterrorism at the international level."
    • "However, the creation of the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) in 2004 is highly likely to play a key role in further integrating EU-level and Member States', plus Norway and Switzerland's, bio-surveillance systems over the next three to five years."
    • "By the end of 2008, TESSy, an EU-wide infectious disease surveillance system, is likely to become operational and standardize data collection on infectious disease surveillance, provide one single point for Member States to report and retrieve data, produce uniform reports based on collection data and render a consistent overview of the current situation in the EU."
  • "Although it is highly likely that individual countries will continue to make significant progress towards bio-preparedness over the next three to five years, it is unlikely that the EU as a whole will achieve complete preparedness as it still lacks international health care coordination, neglects to mandate that all countries stockpile vaccines and antiviral drugs and has not instituted EU-wide emergency response resources."
Trends in the various categories examined were also worth exploring. I was very impressed with the country by country breakdown and, of course, if nothing else, the substantial number of resources the team has collected to validate their findings.

Last, but perhaps the most interesting methodological twist the students put on their findings, is a Preparedness Indicators Chart the students put together that summarized their findings. It lays out all the strengths and weaknesses of each country and is definitely worth the look. I have reproduced it below but I know it is fuzzy. Click on the picture below. On that page is a better version and a link to the underlying Excel file itself.


thingswholeandnotwhole said...

Impressive! As usual...

I just returned from a KM conference in London, where various (mostly private but also public) sector actors were still discussing what is a wiki and expressing scepticism about the value of using wikis whether internally or for project-related purposes.

That, together with a lot of musings on how to adapt the organization to a Generation Y workforce was more or less the content of the 2 day event. I'll be posting some thoughts related to that on my blog later in the week. In the meantime, your students' work never fails to produce a great effect on my colleague's motivation. Thank you!


Kristan J. Wheaton said...

They did do a good job, didn't they...

I am looking forward to your posts.