Where should data sharing occur


  With the information mapping results determine:

  1.  Where along the surveillance pathway do data NEED to be shared?
  2. CAN data be shared at this point?

     • Practically

     • Legally

With the available information sources identified and their data mapped, you are now in a position to determine where data NEED to be shared across the information systems, and where data CAN be shared.

Ideally, these questions are addressed in a workshop setting bringing together all those who contributed to the mapping exercise of step 4, thereby, allowing for broader discussions or clarifications on their systems and data.

What are the options for sharing data?

The sequence of activities that define an animal health, human health or food safety surveillance system have been summarised by Filter et al. 2021 1 and modified slightly for our purposes.

This pathway provides a useful visualisation of where data or information from existing systems can be shared or exchanged along the surveillance process. The blue box highlights the mostly likely steps where data or information sharing could occur:

  • Data management

This step describes the point in the pathway where individual level (may be group level in the case of herds etc) data generated from the earlier steps are collected, collated into a single location (most often a relational database management system) and cleaned for subsequent analysis. Sharing data at this step would result in a common platform with all data available for joint analysis.

  • Data analysis

Sharing information at this step, would mean that the data are analysed within their sector based on an agreed analysis plan and the results of the analyses shared. With this approach, information is shared rather than data.

  • Data interpretation

Sharing at this step in the surveillance process would mean that data are retained within their sectoral storage system, are analysed within the sector with no agreed analysis plan, and results from the different analyses are jointly considered for interpretation in a One Health, or multisectoral context.


Where should the data be shared?

With this in mind, the working group will now need to determine where data or information NEED to be shared to meet the common objectives of the surveillance system defined at Step 3. Defining the data or information required for each objective will facilitate the process.

With that completed, the next step will be to assess whether the data or information CAN be shared at that point in the surveillance pathway from both the practical and legal perspectives.

From a practical perspective there is the consideration of the surveillance strategy within which the data have been collected and whether they are comparable across information sources. There is also the technical consideration of the way in which the data are stored and managed, and whether they can ‘speak’ to each other or not. Any barriers from the practical perspective should be assessed for work around solutions (and their feasibility).

From the legal perspective, EU and national laws associated with those data will need to be considered when assessing whether, and where, data or information sharing can occur.

Ideally data or information can be shared at the same point in the surveillance pathway as where data or information need to be shared to meet the surveillance objective(s).

In some situations, data or information may be able to be shared at an earlier point in the surveillance pathway than where it is needed. In these instances, it may be ‘nice’ to share data or information at the earlier stage, however, it is not necessary and therefore, a careful assessment of the benefits needs to be carried out.

For instance, the integrated West Nile Surveillance system in Italy share analysed data from humans and equids in the event of disease detection (aggregated data summarising the number of positive cases and regional location). They are exploring the possibility of creating an integrated database where raw surveillance data from both the human sector and the animal sector are combined. However, the system currently performs ‘very well’ against its defined objectives and therefore, the cost-benefit of creating a common data base sharing raw data needs to be carefully assessed.

In the event that data or information are only able to be shared at a point later in the surveillance pathway than where it needs to be shared to meet the surveillance objectives, it may be necessary to return to Step 3 and re-define the surveillance objectives appropriate to the data available.

This is also true for the situation where the available data themselves are not sufficient to address the objective even if sharing at the right step can occur.


  1. Filter, M., T. Buschhardt, F. Dórea, E. Lopez de Abechuco, T. Günther, E. M. Sundermann, J. Gethmann, J. Dups-Bergmann, K. Lagesen and J. Ellis-Iversen (2021). “One Health Surveillance Codex: promoting the adoption of One Health solutions within and across European countries.” One Health 12: 100233.

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