Within this new community, we are building a grid-based public health surveillance application prototype using only FOSS components including RODS, OGSA-DAI, the Globus Toolkit 4 and OpenMRS. The design of this prototype is influenced by our early grid research results that suggest distribution of data and detection algorithms to grid nodes can enhance computational efficiency and data sharing in public health surveillance.
Our distributed surveillance application prototype focuses on two basic components of a public health surveillance system—the data repository and visualization. In a distributed public health surveillance system, the data repository needs to federate various data sources that are likely to use heterogeneous database schemas. The University of Edinburgh (UE), wrote the OGSA-DAI API that enables federation of data sources. We are currently federating two database schemas—OpenMRS and RODS. UE’s initial research shows successful federation over multiple OpenMRS databases and successful optimization of the queries to achieve up to a 10–fold decrease in retrieval time. The second basic component of a distributed surveillance system is data visualization. The visualization component for the project is based on the geographic information system component of RODS. This visualizer will permit us to view the results of our federated queries along with additional public health data as a 3D map in Google Earth.
This prototype demonstrates the feasibility of a distributed public health surveillance application and open source collaboration in public health.
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