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Brian Altonen‘s insight:

Ten years ago I produced the first effective series of maps documenting a probable nidus or nest for West Nile disease in New York.  A cluster of positive testing hosts (crows) was identified and surveillance traps set to determine where the disease had become a part of the local ecology.  This proved for the first time the ability of the local setting to support the vector for this disease, making it possible for a new series of cases to erupt the following spring.

 

These maps were produced using a combination of ArcView 3.2 and Idrisi32 software in order to intergrate DEMs, aerial photographs, Satellite Imagery, NDVI (AVHRR), and NLCDs into the typical land use GIS data sources that were available.

 

The above product of this work was demonstrated at a number of meetings and conferences during the next 4 years.

 

Recently I tested and evaluated the new zeemaps.com mapping program available as open source (free) on the web.  

 

I recently used this tool to document much of the surveillance work I carried out during the earliest years of west nile surveillance (http://www.zeemaps.com/view?group=751431&x=-73.464156&y=41.710832&z=8).  

 

This site is very easy to use and has the potential of being a valuable GIS for use by managed care programs trying to understand the potential applications of their Big Data.  

 

Due to PHI and HIPAA, I recommend its use for evaluate the use of services, clinics, lab offices, providers, special service agencies and such.  For surveillance/epidemiological purposes, it can be used to define culturally-specific high risk areas, or to monitor health around the region, to document and encode specific disease behaviors for use by peers, and for evaluating services and cost by region around particular primary care facilities.  

 

Aside from the availability of ZeeMaps as freeware, the ease of its use and the possibility for adding any data ranging from public health information leaflets to self-defined datasets is what makes this GIS attractive.  Individuals can use it to locate meeting places and schedules for self-help groups, or to chose their specialists by visualizing their office locations in relation to public transport.

 

As always, HIPAA and PHI have to be kept in mind when institutions are using this tool to advertise these qualities of their healthcare program.  

 

Agencies currently testing this freeware are applying it mostly as an information source for use by patient populations.  It is used to define the locations for meeting important personal health care needs and to locate allied healthcare service providers.   

See on www.zeemaps.com