DESCRIPTION: This Phase II STTR project will complete development of
geographic disease surveillance software. Health professionals must
often address cluster allegations brought forward by concerned citizens.
Examples include well-publicized episodes in Woburn, Massachusetts and
Love Canal, New York. Recent advances in computer databases and
Geographic Information Systems provide more data than ever before,
making possible proactive statistical testing of geographic hypotheses.
Statistical tests are often designed for use in this proactive manner
and are less applicable to reactive cluster investigations, where
standard epidemiological study designs may be more appropriate. While
an active and productive research area in academic institutions, recent
advances in proactive biostatistical methods have not found their way
into commercially available software, and, in general, are not taught
as part of the epidemiology curriculum. As a result, researchers often
lack both appropriate statistical tools and the educational foundation
needed to analyze disease patterns. Accordingly, this research will
accomplish two aims:
(1) Complete development of the Phase I software prototype.
(2) Prepare educational modules for university use.
Accomplishment of these aims will foster the technical transfer of
geographic and statistical methods and will enhance the ability of
health professionals to explore geographic hypotheses of disease spread
PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION:
The prototypes resulting from this research will have applications in
disease surveillance, methodological research, and education. Of these,
education has the greatest commercial potential because of the growing
need for instructional materials in Spatial Information Science in
general and in spatial epidemiology in particular. This need has caused
organizations such as the National Center for Geographic Information and
Analysis (NCGIA), and, most recently, the University Consortium for
Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), to formulate academic curricula
in Geographic Information Science. However, instructional materials to
implement the curricula are not commercially available. Instructional
materials resulting from this research will help meet this need.
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