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Infection Watch Live – A real-time, geospatial mapping tool of hospital triage data for public consumption Adam van Dijk MSc, Matt McPherson, Chris Sambol, Kieran M. Moore M.D. Background. Objective.

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Infection Watch Live – A real-time, geospatial mapping tool of hospital triage data for public consumption

Adam van Dijk MSc, Matt McPherson, Chris Sambol, Kieran M. Moore M.D.



  • To inform health professionals and the public directly about real-time utilization of local Emergency Departments for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness to enable enhanced communication and collaboration between Public Health and health care workers.
  • Most health units do not incorporate spatial information into disease surveillance there is a growing body of knowledge that indicates such data can be useful in tracking the spread of certain diseases.
  • The prompt detection of respiratory and gastrointestinal related illnesses are of particular importance due to the rapid transmission and potential burden on the community.

Fig. 2 – Enlarged map of respiratory activity for children 0-4 years of age on Nov. 17th subdivided by forward sortation area (postal boundary).


Fig. 1 – Main landing page of Infection Watch Live showing real-time maps of illness activity.

User Acceptance

  • Publicly accessible website branded as Infection Watch Live (IWL) which will publish local maps. The interface is a web-based GIS application developed using ESRI ArcGIS Server.
  • System uses anonymized, non-identifiable, real-time, emergency department respiratory and gastrointestinal visit data from an already existing real-time Emergency Department Syndromic Surveillance (EDSS) system in Kingston, Ontario.
  • Expected users include: medical officers of health, nurses, physicians, hospital administrators, long-term care homes, schools, child care, employers, EMS and local citizens.
  • Key functionalities:
    • Today’s Maps – snapshot view of current activity (Fig. 1 & 2)
    • Advanced Maps – simple GIS interface (Fig. 3)
    • Illness Trends – animated historical activity
    • WMS – ability to consume data in external applications
    • Prevention and Info – enables the community
  • Initial user feedback came from nurses, public health professionals, community members, parents, and infection control practitioners.
  • Infection Watch Live was given a 3.9 average rating by users (scale: 0 = not very useful – 5 = very useful)
  • Top three uses for IWL were: general community illness update, knowledge will guide me in the care of my family, knowledge will aid in infection prevention


Fig. 3 – Screen shot of the advanced maps section on Infection Watch Live which gives users more control over how they view local, illness activity maps.

  • Enables informed decision making in the community.
  • Provides the community with current Emergency Department utilization data for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness.
  • Representing data by neighborhood enables the community to react to current respiratory and gastrointestinal infections in their area.

Next Steps

  • Expected public launch on January 1, 2009
  • Ongoing performance monitoring and user testing
  • Continue engaging local stakeholders
  • Possible future integration of additional data sources
  • Expansion to other health units

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Neil Watson, Marie Alexander, Paul Beach, Sevaan Franks, Dillan Fernando, Niall Wallace, Justin Chenier and Ryan Backus – all of whom provided considerable help and expertise in the development of this application.

Contact Information: Adam van Dijk -