visualize | communicate | ENGAGE
The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) carries out independent research and provides policy advice on infectious diseases, public health, consumer safety and the environment. RIVM collects and collates knowledge and information from various sources, both national and international. This insight is used by policy-makers, researchers, regulatory authorities and the general public. Each year, RIVM produces reports on all aspects of public health, nutrition and diet, health care, disaster management, nature and the environment. We spoke to Jeroen Alblas, Data Manager, about its use of online mapping software and how it is being used to improve awareness of infectious diseases.
How did you find out about InstantAtlas?
The head of our department visited a congress where she saw the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control present a map of the geographical distribution of diseases. She felt we could do something similar given we have a lot of textual information on infectious diseases on the website, but we wanted it to be presented in a more dynamic way and easily updated.
Could you tell us more about the project?
We started out with the notifiable diseases which is data collected by municipal health services in Netherlands. We invited individuals from municipal agencies to discuss what data they would like to see and how it could be presented. There was quite a lot of discussion to determine the best geographical level and the timescales we should use. We also wanted to ensure that individual patients could not be identified. We then created a pilot report which was password protected for further feedback. We also started work on a tool that would take data from our database and then upload into InstantAtlas. This now means new data can be uploaded as often as needed, currently every week.
Who is using the new report?
The report can be seen by everyone from healthcare professionals to members of the public. However, we have only been live for a couple of months and haven’t really investigated the user statistics. We have plans to promote the reports more widely throughout the year.
What sort of feedback have you had from users?
Most of the feedback has come from the pilot report which went down very well. This is because not all the municipal health services have the resources to be able to display this sort of information.
What are your plans for future development?
There are some changes we would like to make in terms of usability and access. We are also planning on adding other fields like sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, ticks and Lyme Disease. Currently the reports are standalone so we are planning to integrate it into the RIVM site, although it will have to meet requirements for accessibility which will need further work.
What are the benefits of using InstantAtlas?
Example health authorities / agencies in Europe with InstantAtlas investments