Summit Series Focuses On Modern, Interoperable Data Systems to Bolster the Public’s Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed the nation’s public health system. The challenges exposed by the pandemic have underscored the need to invest in and develop comprehensive, flexible and interoperable data systems to track and address current and future infectious disease outbreaks.

“Our ultimate goal it to move from siloed and brittle public health data systems to connected, resilient, adaptable and sustainable ‘response ready’ systems,” said Daniel B. Jernigan, MD, MPH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) deputy director for Public Health Science and Surveillance.

The recent multi-billion dollar government investment to modernize public health data systems, made available in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, offers unprecedented opportunities. To inform that process, the CDC Foundation convened with co-hosts the second of the four-part Lights, Camera, Action: The Future of Public Health Summit Series on January 25. With a focus on data modernization, the summit convened a wide range of public health professionals from around the country to discuss actionable next steps they and others can take to help transform our nation’s public health system and create a healthier future for Americans.

“We need to know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “Architecture and design matter. Context matters. Equity matters. Most importantly, each of you matters.”

Through panel discussions and real-time polls, summit participants discussed the challenges and shortfalls of the existing public health data infrastructure, and ways data can be used to strengthen and broaden these systems going forward. In light of new resources and unprecedented funding, a number of speakers highlighted the opportunity this moment presents to build and connect data systems. Discussion topics included the role of strong public and private partnerships to create flexibility in public health responses, the vital role health equity plays in a robust public health system and opportunities to create action-oriented intelligence and results using new data collection points enabled by personal technology.

To see a full recording of the summit focused on data modernization or to register for upcoming summits on February 23 (Effectively Financing Governmental Public Health Functions and Strengthening Public Health Law and Governance to Support a Modern System) and in March (Catalyzing Cross-Sectoral Partnerships and Community Engagement), go to

The United Health Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of UnitedHealth Group; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and The Pew Charitable Trusts are providing initial support for the Lights, Camera, Action Summit Series. This support is aimed at helping to catalyze actions to build confidence, foster health equity and transform our nation’s public health system. Others interested in supporting this mission should contact the CDC Foundation at

The CDC Foundation is convening the summit series in collaboration with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) and other public health partners.

David Snyder
David Snyder is the content director for the CDC Foundation.