Investigating OGC Standards' Potential Role in Healthier, More Resilient Communities

Contributed by: 
Eddie Oldfield, Director, New Brunswick Climate Change Hub

Over the past decade, location data and spatial analytics have played a transformative role in addressing a number of global issues. My interest has focused on improving public health and sustainable communities through improved sharing of geospatial information.

From 2003-2008 I coordinated applied R&D for implementation of geospatial interoperability standards (WMS, WFS, WPS) to exchange, integrate, and visualize distributed health and environmental information. The applications studied involved chronic illness, public health resources, critical infrastructure, pollution, meteorological information, and pandemic surveillance and control through an improved Common Operating Picture.

Oldfield blog figure

Pandemic exercise (2007) based on our Health and Pandemic Mapping Research using OGC standards. Exercise involved Canadian and US partners. Our services were provisioned on the e-Novations fiber network in Fredericton, with server bank (for DB and Web Map Services), web and mobile applications and integrated distributed map services.

In 2007, we conducted a two-day tabletop exercise (with participation in US and Canada) to respond to a pandemic scenario of moderate style (defined as 35% infection rate / morbidity, by CDC). The data schema conformed to HL7 (Health Level Seven International) for diagnosis codes. The mapping platform was scalable, geo-statistically rendered (based on user submitted parameters) at various scales, viewable across time and space, and available in a permission-based collaboration platform and mobile app (for front line health workers. Pieces of our research were published in peer-reviewed journals. For example, our article in the International Journal for Health Geographics was shortlisted for BioMED Central Medicine Prize 2009, illustrating how we used OGC standards to create our health mapping application, services, and model.

More recently, my funded research is focused on the feasibility of integrated energy mapping using OGC web service standards. I will present this work at the upcoming OGC TC meeting “Smart Grid Working Group ad-hoc” in Austin, Texas. The energy efficiency potential discoverable through interoperable map services may have significant implications for decarbonizing our economy and mitigating environmental determinants of respiratory health (among others).

I am currently funded to explore the feasibility of creating a national inventory or portal to bring together climate and health resources for decision-makers in public health, municipal emergency management, and local climate adaptation, as well as investigating with regional partners the feasibility of expanding public health heat alert and response, community resilience / disaster risk reduction, and modeling of historical and forecast impacts from climate on public health. This will necessitate the sharing of geospatial information through OGC Web Services. Our prototypes are currently ingesting data available from diverse sources through services that implement the OGC Web Map Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS), and Web Processing Service (WPS) standards.