Web GIS-Based Public Health Surveillance Systems: A Systematic Review

isprsISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 2014, 3(2), 481-506

By Hui Luan and Jane Law

“Web Geographic Information System (Web GIS) has been extensively and successfully exploited in various arenas. However, to date, the application of this technology in public health surveillance has yet to be systematically explored in the Web 2.0 era. We reviewed existing Web GIS-based Public Health Surveillance Systems (WGPHSSs) and assessed them based on 20 indicators adapted from previous studies. The indicators comprehensively cover various aspects of WGPHSS development, including metadata, data, cartography, data analysis, and technical aspects. Our literature search identified 58 relevant journal articles and 27 eligible WGPHSSs. Analyses of results revealed that WGPHSSs were frequently used for infectious-disease surveillance, and that geographical and performance inequalities existed in their development. The latest Web and Web GIS technologies have been used in developing WGPHSSs; however, significant deficiencies in data analysis, system compatibility, maintenance, and accessibility exist. A balance between public health surveillance and privacy concerns has yet to be struck. Use of news and social media as well as Web-user searching records as data sources, participatory public health surveillance, collaborations among health sectors at different spatial levels and among various disciplines, adaption or reuse of existing WGPHSSs, and adoption of geomashup and open-source development models were identified as the directions for advancing WGPHSSs.”

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