Working with InterAction on a project for USAID, we developed decentralized data collection tools to survey public health organizations' capacity to respond to a flu outbreaks like H1N1 and H5N1. Plotting this data onto a dynamic map shows the global preparedness situation, and it also lets users drill down to get details on a specific country or region.
We had two goals with this project: to better collect data and program information from public health agencies working abroad, and to display this data in a way that makes it easy for policy makers to quickly understand the current capacity to respond to a disaster and identify gaps in capacity.
The Pandemic Preparedness Mapping site works because it makes it easy to collect and display timely data with clarity. With this tool, public health workers abroad can go online and enter basic data about their programs through a short online submission form. Their data is then immediately sent to InterAction staff in Washington, DC, who can then edit and approve it to confirm its accuracy. Once the data is approved, it is published automatically on a dynamic map. From there, anyone can see which areas around the world have the capacity to respond to a pandemic flu outbreak and which do not. Users can also export the data to KML format for display on Google Earth, opening up possibilities to integrate the data with other applications.
The end result is that InterAction now has an up-to-date "yellow pages" of public health programs that can respond to an outbreak and a timely view of their capacity to handle a crisis in a given region.