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Data Mashups Can Help Answer the World's Biggest Questions

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We collect climate data. We collect health data. What if we combined the two?

A new effort is exploring links between climate, weather, environment, and health.

Credit: Keven CC By-SA

The Medical and Environmental Data Mashup Infrastructure (MEDMI) project aims to enable research into the links between climate, weather, environment, and health by integrating databases from each of these areas and enabling access through one Web-based portal, writes Lora Fleming, director of the European Center for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter.

Fleming says the MEDMI researchers want to create a shared resource for medical, environmental, and public health professional.

The collection of health and environment data over the past 20 years includes detailed monitoring of weather and climate variables such as temperature and rainfall and digital health records, among other useful additions. The researchers want to identify places where climate and other environmental factors converge to affect vulnerable populations so decision-makers can mitigate the consequences and study these interventions.

However, Fleming says merging data types ranging from a description of a person's mental health to measurements of ocean currents presents some major challenges. She notes statistical techniques and methods such as geographic information systems can provide a good foundation, and the standardization of spatial data services by the Open Geospatial Consortium has begun to create a common international language between databases.

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