HSR.health firmly believes geospatial technologies present the best opportunity to advance the capacity of global public health to meet the growing and changing disease surveillance and response needs of the world today. It is this commitment that leads us to chair the Health domain working group (DWG) of an organization called the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) role – a global member-based organization setting the standards for all this Geo.
The Health DWG is comprised of individuals from throughout the OGC’s 500+ members dedicated to the exploration and expansion of geospatial technologies and location-based data within the health domain. Chaired by Ajay K Gupta, our Co-founder and CEO, the Health DWG has produced a series of Global Health Summits and quarterly sessions at OGC member meetings as well as a detailed white paper titled “Health SDI: Application Areas, Recommendations, and Architecture” (OGC document number 19-076), advocating for the creation and deployment of a global spatial data infrastructure for the curation and sharing of health risk data, indicators, and insights.
The OGC Health Domain Working Group routinely invites geospatial and health industry experts to share their work and vision of the future at our sessions during quarterly Member Meetings (MM). In conjunction with these sessions, we hold Global Health Summits providing a unique opportunity to engage in the breadth and depth of topics related to the application of location data in healthcare. The overall purpose is to spark discussion on the value geospatial technologies bring to the delivery of healthcare and advocate for their adoption across the industry globally.
On 22 February 2023 during the recent MM 125 in Frascati, Italy at the headquarters of the European Space Agency (ESA) we marked our return to an in-person Global Health Summit. We thank the ESA for hosting the Summit, the OGC for providing the meeting infrastructure and assistance with coordination, and all speakers, moderators, panelists, and participants who took part in the conversations.
Under the theme of “Leveraging GeoAI to Advance Public Health” the Global Health Summit 2023 was organized through broad community input with the goal of bringing together a global audience of technologists, clinicians, public health experts, as well as funders, and thought leaders in a forum for geo/location experts to learn what clinicians need to advance the practice of healthcare, and for clinicians to explore the possibilities unleashed when location/geo data is incorporated as part of solutions.
Although the subjects explored by the 20+ expert speakers and panelists during the Global Health Summit are unique and varying, a few consistent themes arose:
Health Spatial Data Infrastructure
There is growing recognition for the need and potential benefits from a platform bringing together the various health, social, environmental, Earth Observation (EO), and other data along with indicators and risk indices for providing decision support in the healthcare space. As well as a standard mechanism to communicate to broad communities and make the data and analysis F.A.I.R. Variations of such a health-focused spatial data infrastructure (Health SDI) serving as a data repository or catalog was mentioned to provide visibility into the numerous geohealth projects currently underway.
Satellite imagery represents a new source of data to inform health risks. Periodically, new data sources are needed to continue innovation in problem solving. We are only at the beginning of learning how to extract health-related features from Earth Observation (EO) data and how such features can be turned into health indicators and risk indices. The benefits of such are bounded only by imagination.
Climate change is widely considered a critical and practical application for geohealth applications. With immediate, direct (1st order) as well as longer term (2nd & 3rd order) impacts – there is a pressing need to understand, mitigate, and/or adapt to our shared future health posture due to the changing climate and environment.
These themes will be further discussed at the next Health DWG Session – on Monday, June 5th from 12Noon-1pm during MM 126 at the Huntsville Botanical Garden at 4747 Bob Wallace Avenue, Huntsville, Alabama. Our goal is for these themes to inform both future Summits as well as the on-going activities of our Health DWG, in collaboration with other organizations, towards greater deployment of GeoHealth solutions to help meet our goal of increasing the capacity of global public health.