Drawing on data located in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, a University of Washington researcher simulates a tuberculosis outbreak in these three states and shares her work with researchers throughout the country. Well, not so fast—seamlessly gathering and distributing information in this way is still a vision of the future being brought to life by Tom Savel and his colleagues at the National Center for Public Health Informatics (NCPHI), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It’s time to move the field of public health informatics forward,” Savel says, referring to information processing and system design, and that a flexible, secure grid is the way. The interconnectivity, the neutral, open-source environment and the efficient use of expensive resources it offers serve as incentives for wide, grass roots adoption. A public health informatics grid would encourage collaboration, he believes, as researchers strive to manage disease outbreaks and other potentially nation-wide or global threats.