First there were satellites in the sky that could read license plates from space.

Then there were cameras on every major street and highway.

Then there were full-body scans at airports.

Then came the proliferation of drones over the skies of America.

Barack Obama announced today the next phase of government national surveillance – with a budget of billions.

It’s called “the National Strategy for Biosurveillance.”

But, don’t worry, it’s all for the public good, health and safety, officials say.

The announcement came in the form of a short press release from the White House press secretary today:

“As a nation, we need to protect the health and safety of our people from naturally occurring or intentional threats. Early threat detection and sustained situational awareness are critical to saving lives and improving outcomes when there is a national health emergency. The administration’s new National Strategy for Biosurveillance aims to unify national effort around a common purpose and establish new ways of thinking about providing information to enable better decisionmaking.

“The strategy promotes an all-of-nation approach that brings together federal, state, local, and tribal governments; the private sector; non-governmental organizations; and international partners to identify and understand threats as early as possible and provide accurate and timely information to support life-saving responses. The strategy calls for focusing on the most important information, and shaping the enterprise to meet that need, so that we can do more with less.

“The strategy emphasizes four key biosurveillance functions which are critical for the effectiveness of the biosurveillance enterprise. They are:

Scan and Discern the Environment
Integrate and Identify Essential Information
Alert and Inform Decisionmakers
Forecast and Advise Impacts

“Advances in technology, the advent of social media, and new science provide opportunities to strengthen our national biosurveillance enterprise. As a next step, during the next 120 days, the administration will lay out specific action steps going forward in an implementation plan. It is by working together that we can best promote the resilience of the nation and act to protect the American people.”

Read more here.

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