Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

COVID-19 data driven planning: The SouthEast Texas approach

Adam Lee, MS, Lori Upton, RN, BSN, MS, CEM, Magdalena Anna Denham, EdD, Jeremiah Williamson


This coautoethnographic case study used the Open-Source Public Health Intelligence process to explore and share the South East Texas Regional Advisory Councils’ (SETRAC) experience in collecting, processing, disseminating/visualizing, and analyzing COVID-19 data during the pandemic in the largest national medical setting in the United States. Specifically, it details the production of Business Intelligence reports powered by PowerBI both with general publics and with Regional Healthcare Preparedness Program (HPP) Coalition Coordinators, County Judges and City Mayors, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) executive leadership, the Offices of the Texas Governor, and the Federal Pandemic Task Force led by the US Vice President, in order to provide a foundation for situational awareness, inter-regional collaboration, allocation of scare resources, and local, regional, and state policy decisions. It highlights best practices in risk and crisis communications during the COVID-19 response, underscores cross-sector collaboration and standardization of data collection for effective planning and response, discusses pervasive data revealed during the analysis, and evaluates collaborative and feedback processes that have implications for the Health Care System and Homeland Security Enterprise information sharing.


risk and crisis communications and the public right to know; interoperable communications in Homeland Security Enterprise and healthcare systems, COVID-19 data collection, tracking, visualization, analysis, and information-sharing

Full Text:



Covello VT: Risk communication: An emerging area of health communication research. In Deetz SA (ed.): Communication Yearbook, vol. 15. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1992: 359-373.

Walaski FP: Risk and Crisis Communications: Methods and Messages. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Control Disease and Prevention. CERC Introduction. [Update]. 2018. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Burton-Jeangros C: Epidemics and risk communication: Why are lessons not learned? In Managing the Global Health Response to Epidemics. New York, NY: Routledge, 2019: 105-125.

Laajalahti A, Hyvärinen J, Vos M: Crisis communication competence in co-producing safety with citizen groups. Soc Sci. 2016; 5: 13-15. DOI: 10.3390/socsci5010013.

Heath RL, O’Hair DH: Handbook of Risk and Crisis Communications. New York, NY: Routledge, 2009.

Coombs TW: Public sector crises: Realizations from COVID-19 for crisis communications. Participatzione Conflitto. 2020; 13: 990- 1001. DOI: 10.1285/i20356609v13i2p990.

Ratzen SC, Sommarivac S, Rauh L: Enhancing global communication during a crisis: Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health Res Practice. 2020; 30(2): 1-6. DOI: 10.17061/phrp3022010.

Hills TTL: The dark side of information proliferation. Pers Psych Sci. 2018; 14(3): 323-330. DOI: 10.1177/1745691618803647.

Glick DC: Risk communication for public health emergencies. Ann Rev Public Health. 2007; 28: 33-54.

Fischhoff B: The realities of risk-cost-benefit analysis. Science. 2015; 350: Aaa6516. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6516.

Cvetkovich G, Lofstedt R: Social Trust and the Management of Risk. London, UK: Eartscan, 1999.

Renn O, Levine D: Credibility and trust in risk communication. In Kasperson R, Stallen P (eds.): Communicating Risks to the Public. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer, 1991: 175-218.

Fessenden-Raden J, Fitchen JM, Heath JS: Providing risk information in communities: Factors influencing what is heard and accepted. Sci Technol Hum Values. 1987; 12(3/4): 94-101.

Lundgren R: Risk Communication: A Handbook for Communicating Environmental, Safety, and Health Risks. Columbus, OH: Batelle Mem. Institute, 1994.

United States Department of Homeland Security: NIPP 2013: Partnering for critical infrastructure security and resilience. 2013. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

United States Department of Homeland Security: Target capabilities list: A companion to the National Preparedness Guidelines. 2007. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

White House: National Strategy for Information Sharing and Safeguarding. 2012. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Fynn SE: Higher ground: The sophisticated healthcare response of the SouthEast Texas regional advisory council to Hurricane Harvey [report]. Northeastern University, Global Resilience Institute. 2018. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Texas Department of State Health Services: Regional Advisory Councils. 2021. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

SETRAC: Regional healthcare preparedness coalition our mission. 2021. Available at Regional Healthcare Preparedness Coalition – SETRAC.

Lowenthal MM: Intelligence: From secrets to policy. (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press. 2019.

Chang H, Ngunjiri FW, Hernandez KA: Collaborative Autoethnography. Developing Qualitative Inquiry, Book 8. New York, NY: Routledge, 2016.

Denham MA, Baker N: Harvey unstrapped: Experiencing adaptive tensions on the edge of chaos. WIT Transaction on Built Environment Disaster Management. 2019; 190: 1-18.

National Defense Authorization Act: Washington, DC: H.R. 1815, 2006. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Hubbs C, Moran M, Salisbury D: Open-Source Intelligence in the 21st Century: New Approaches and Opportunities. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Bernard R, Bowscher G, Milner C, et al.: Intelligence and global health: Assessing the role of open-source and social media intelligence analysis in infectious disease outbreaks. J Public Health (Berl). 2018; 26: 509-519.

Greenberg HM: Is the Department of Homeland Security an Intelligence Agency? Int Nat Security. 2009; 24(2): 216-235. DOI: 10.1080/02684520902819644.

Ferguson NM, Laydon D, Nedjati-Gilani G, et al.: Impact of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand. [Report 9]. Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, London, UK. 2020. Available at Accessed at December 2, 2021.

Abbott G: Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order to Strengthen Reporting Capabilities. Austin, TX: Office of the Texas Governor, 2020. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Abbott G: Executive Order No. GA-32 relating to the continued response to the COVID-19 disaster as Texas reopens. 2020. Available at http://EO-GA-32_continued_response_to_COVID-19_IMAGE_10-07-2020.pdf. Accessed December 2, 2021.

Bean H: No More Secrets: Open-Source Information and the Reshaping of US Intelligence. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011.

USAFacts: Texas coronavirus cases and deaths. 2021. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Texas Department of Criminal Justice COVID-19 case counts. ArcGIS Interactive Map. 2021. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Regional Emergency and Disaster Healthcare Coalition: Pediatric medical surge annex. 2020. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Blackburn CC, Natsios A, Ruyle L: What happens when COVID-19 and influenza collide? Can hospitals handle the strain? The Conversation. 2020. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Kamath T: Harris County Judge says hospital admissions rose slightly in past few days, peak not reached. Click2Houston. 2020. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Callahan M: Faced with a daily barrage of news, college students find it hard to tell what’s real and what’s ‘fake news’. 2018. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Comfort LK, Haase TW: Communication, coherence, and collective action: The impact of Hurricane Katrina on communications infrastructure. Public Works Manag Policy. 2006; 10: 328-343. DOI: 10.1177/1087724X06289052.

Mayer-Schoenberger V: Emergency communications: The quest for interoperability in the United States and Europe. KSG Working Paper No. RWP02-024. 2002. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Minnis CW: Data Communications with the Emergency Services: A Mixed Methods Study of Attempts to Improve Data Communications Systems Interoperability and Information Sharing Issues [doctoral dissertation]. Ann Harbor, MI: Proquest, 2010.

Balka E, Whitehouse S, Coates ST, et al.: Ski hill injuries and ghost charts: Socio-technical issues in achieving e-Health interoperability across jurisdictions. Inf Syst Front. 2012; 14: 19-42. DOI: 10.1007/s10796-011-9302-4.

Walker J, Pan E, Johnston D, et al.: The value of health care information exchange and interoperability. Health Affairs, 19. 2005. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Texas Medical Center Corporation: TMC facts and figures [report]. 2016. Available at

Coombs TW, Halladay SJ: The paracrisis: The challenges created by publicly managing crisis prevention. Public Relat Rev. 2012; 38: 408-415. DOI: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2012.04.004.

Igoe KJ: Developing public health communication strategies and combatting misinformation during COVID-19. Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. 2021. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

PowerBI [Software]: Microsoft, 2021. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.

Texas Department of Health State Services: COVID-19 hospital bed reporting data dictionary. 2020. Available at Accessed December 2, 2021.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Journal of Emergency Management