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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Online GIS services for mapping and sharing disease information

Sheng Gao1*, Darka Mioc1, Francois Anton2, Xiaolun Yi3 and David J Coleman1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering, University of New Brunswick, Canada

2 Department of Informatics and Mathematical Modelling, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark

3 New Brunswick Lung Association, Canada

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2008, 7:8  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-7-8

Published: 25 February 2008

Abstract

Background

Disease data sharing is important for the collaborative preparation, response, and recovery stages of disease control. Disease phenomena are strongly associated with spatial and temporal factors. Web-based Geographical Information Systems provide a real-time and dynamic way to represent disease information on maps. However, data heterogeneities, integration, interoperability, and cartographical representation are still major challenges in the health geographic fields. These challenges cause barriers in extensively sharing health data and restrain the effectiveness in understanding and responding to disease outbreaks. To overcome these challenges in disease data mapping and sharing, the senior authors have designed an interoperable service oriented architecture based on Open Geospatial Consortium specifications to share the spatio-temporal disease information.

Results

A case study of infectious disease mapping across New Brunswick (Canada) and Maine (USA) was carried out to evaluate the proposed architecture, which uses standard Web Map Service, Styled Layer Descriptor and Web Map Context specifications. The case study shows the effectiveness of an infectious disease surveillance system and enables cross-border visualization, analysis, and sharing of infectious disease information through interactive maps and/or animation in collaboration with multiple partners via a distributed network. It enables data sharing and users' collaboration in an open and interactive manner.

Conclusion

In this project, we develop a service oriented architecture for online disease mapping that is distributed, loosely coupled, and interoperable. An implementation of this architecture has been applied to the New Brunswick and Maine infectious disease studies. We have shown that the development of standard health services and spatial data infrastructure can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of public health surveillance.