Environmental and Ecological Statistics

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 183–197 | Cite as

Upper level set scan statistic for detecting arbitrarily shaped hotspots

  • G. P. Patil
  • C. Taillie


A declared need is around for geoinformatic surveillance statistical science and software infrastructure for spatial and spatiotemporal hotspot detection. Hotspot means something unusual, anomaly, aberration, outbreak, elevated cluster, critical resource area, etc. The declared need may be for monitoring, etiology, management, or early warning. The responsible factors may be natural, accidental, or intentional. This proof-of-concept paper suggests methods and tools for hotspot detection across geographic regions and across networks. The investigation proposes development of statistical methods and tools that have immediate potential for use in critical societal areas, such as public health and disease surveillance, ecosystem health, water resources and water services, transportation networks, persistent poverty typologies and trajectories, environmental justice, biosurveillance and biosecurity, among others. We introduce, for multidisciplinary use, an innovation of the health-area-popular circle-based spatial and spatiotemporal scan statistic. Our innovation employs the notion of an upper level set, and is accordingly called the upper level set scan statistic, pointing to a sophisticated analytical and computational system as the next generation of the present day popular SaTScan. Success of surveillance rests on potential elevated cluster detection capability. But the clusters can be of any shape, and cannot be captured only by circles. This is likely to give more of false alarms and more of false sense of security. What we need is capability to detect arbitrarily shaped clusters. The proposed upper level set scan statistic innovation is expected to fill this need

confidence set of hotspots early warning geosurveillance statistics hotspot detection hotspot rating nested upper level set scan statistic typology of space-time hotspots 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. P. Patil
    • 1
  • C. Taillie
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Statistical Ecology and Environmental Statistics, Department of StatisticsPenn State UniversityUniversity Park

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