Distributed Geospatial Data Management for Entomological and Epidemiological Studies

Distributed Geospatial Data Management for Entomological and Epidemiological Studies

Hugo Martins (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal & Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal) and Jorge G. Rocha (Universidade do Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0945-7.ch011
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Since the authors were able to design all the supporting software, all syntactical interoperability was guaranteed by the use of Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards. The semantic interoperability was assured by design, by developing a unique data model. Data invariants are guaranteed either by the interface, with validation routines written in Javascript, or by the data constrains included in the database. Integration and interoperability with other BT programs might require some additional effort, but all the necessary semantic translation could be encapsulated into the WFS component.
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GIS is now considered a valuable and essential tool to epidemiological studies. Spatial analysis through visualization, exploration and modelling allows for a deeper comprehension of the spatial and temporal dynamics of diseases and may be used to suggest and support epidemiological hypotheses. Epidemiological investigations gain strength from being able to incorporate information about the proximity relationships between animals at risk, and also about the context relating to spatial distribution of risk factors (Pfeiffer & Hugh-Jones, 2002).

The Internet is nowadays the preferred means for the electronic communication and sharing of data and it is still evolving rapidly. Its advent has enabled the exchange of knowledge, experience and information to an increasingly broader range of geographically distributed users, and thus, it is contributing to a real democratization of the information. This development has also pushed for the development of powerful proprietary and Open Source (OS) technologies capable of supplying the necessary support to the deployment of GIS web-based applications. WebGIS has the potential to provide a standard platform for the management and visualization of spatial epidemiological data to health professionals with no prior expertise in spatial analysis (Maclachlan, et al., 2007). Furthermore, distributing and sharing disease maps via the Web could help decision makers and authorities collaborate in preventing, controlling and responding to specific disease outbreak (Gao, et al., 2008).

Bluetongue (BT) is an infectious, non-contagious, arthropod-borne viral disease of domestic and wild ruminants that is transmitted by several Culicoides vector species. Portugal has implemented a BT Entomological Surveillance Program in May 2005 as a result of a partnership established between the National Veterinary Authorities (DGV) and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Lisbon (FMV).

Having a distributed information system for the recording, management and sharing of spatial and alphanumerical data related with entomological activity and bluetongue epidemiology is a desirable and valuable contribution in supporting decision-making and sanitary strategy planning. Such a system allows for the near real-time data sharing under the form of maps, charts and tables and thus, generating new opportunities for BT surveillance and prevention. More detailed goals will be listed ahead.

The main objective of this chapter is therefore to highlight, through a small description of spatial epidemiology and BT disease, how web-based GIS management and analytical capabilities may be useful to health professionals in their daily lives. To accomplish this, a complete system architecture and Open Source (OS) software will be discussed in detail.

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