Simulating Biosurveillance Data
It [the computer] is a medium that can dynamically simulate the details of any other medium, including media that cannot exist physically.
Alan Kay (1984, p. 59)
Although there is no substitute for actual data, there are times when simulated data can be very useful, particularly for evaluating how systems and methods will perform under conditions other than that which has already been observed. In addition, simulation gives researchers and practitioners control that is simply not achievable with real data. For example, in real data, it is very difficult – often impossible – to determine whether a particular data stream contains one or more outbreaks. And even when the existence of an outbreak is known, it is ...