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Air pollutants, such as particulate matter with a diameter ≤2.5 microns (PM2.5) and ozone (O3), are known to exacerbate asthma and other respiratory diseases. An integrated surveillance system that tracks such air pollutants and associated disease incidence can assist in risk assessment, healthcare preparedness and public awareness. However, the implementation of such an integrated environmental health surveillance system is a challenge due to the disparate sources of many types of data and the implementation becomes even more complicated for a spatial and real-time system due to lack of standardised technological components and data incompatibility. In addition, accessing and utilising health data that are considered as Protected Health Information (PHI) require maintaining stringent protocols, which have to be supported by the system. This paper aims to illustrate the development of a spatial surveillance system (GeoMedStat) that is capable of tracking daily environmental pollutants along with both daily and historical patient encounter data. It utilises satellite data and the groundmonitor data from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the US Environemental Protection Agenecy (EPA), rspectively as inputs estimating air pollutants and is linked to hospital information systems for accessing chief complaints and disease classification codes. The components, developmental methods, functionality of GeoMedStat and its use as a real-time environmental health surveillance system for asthma and other respiratory syndromes in connection with with PM2.5 and ozone are described. It is expected that the framework presented will serve as an example to others developing real-time spatial surveillance systems for pollutants and hospital visits.
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