LSHTM Epidemic Data Kit
Infectious disease outbreak emergencies require urgent intervention to prevent their effects from worsening and to limit the extent to which infection can continue to spread. Good emergency management starts with good preparedness and one of the most important things that we must be prepared for is to be able to respond rapidly, to collect huge amounts of data in a short time period, to make sense of that data and then to communicate the findings to people who need to use the data to make important decisions.
At the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine we have been using Android tablets and an app called “Open Data Kit” (ODK) to collect data for more than 100 research studies (odk.lshtm.ac.uk) . We believe that this and other software could be the ideal ‘ready-to-go’ options for emergency response data collection. In this new project we will be developing electronic data tools for use in outbreak emergency situations. We will not only make the ODK system even better than it already is, but we will add extra apps, software and protocols that will make geographical mapping much faster and which will allow us to add web-surveys and other data collection methods to the list of ways we can gather data. We also plan to automate a lot of the hard work at the back end so that data and results get where they need to be much faster.
We’ll provide support to all our users but we won’t charge anyone for our services, so anyone can use them. We will also make all of our outputs such as papers, computer programs, methods and training materials available for free via the internet.
A very important part of the work that is done in the field during outbreaks and emergencies is developing high quality maps of the affected areas. Our tools will include mapping software that have been used in outbreaks before but which we believe could be used more effectively.
During this new project our team will work closely with members of the LSHTM Clinical Trials Unit and the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team to help data save lives during epidemics.