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Open Access Highly Accessed Editorial

Web GIS in practice VI: a demo playlist of geo-mashups for public health neogeographers

Maged N Kamel Boulos1*, Matthew Scotch2, Kei-Hoi Cheung23 and David Burden4

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health and Social Work, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA, UK

2 Center for Medical Informatics, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

3 Departments of Anesthesiology and Genetics, School of Medicine, and Department of Computer Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

4 Daden Limited, 103 Oxford Rd, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 9SG, UK

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2008, 7:38  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-7-38

Published: 18 July 2008

Abstract

'Mashup' was originally used to describe the mixing together of musical tracks to create a new piece of music. The term now refers to Web sites or services that weave data from different sources into a new data source or service. Using a musical metaphor that builds on the origin of the word 'mashup', this paper presents a demonstration "playlist" of four geo-mashup vignettes that make use of a range of Web 2.0, Semantic Web, and 3-D Internet methods, with outputs/end-user interfaces spanning the flat Web (two-dimensional – 2-D maps), a three-dimensional – 3-D mirror world (Google Earth) and a 3-D virtual world (Second Life ®). The four geo-mashup "songs" in this "playlist" are: 'Web 2.0 and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) for infectious disease surveillance', 'Web 2.0 and GIS for molecular epidemiology', 'Semantic Web for GIS mashup', and 'From Yahoo! Pipes to 3-D, avatar-inhabited geo-mashups'. It is hoped that this showcase of examples and ideas, and the pointers we are providing to the many online tools that are freely available today for creating, sharing and reusing geo-mashups with minimal or no coding, will ultimately spark the imagination of many public health practitioners and stimulate them to start exploring the use of these methods and tools in their day-to-day practice. The paper also discusses how today's Web is rapidly evolving into a much more intensely immersive, mixed-reality and ubiquitous socio-experiential Metaverse that is heavily interconnected through various kinds of user-created mashups.