Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The next important question: what is the Public Health Grid?

Forgive me technologists on this blog, because I am going to abuse terms that hold specific meaning in your world. With that, another important question -- what do we mean when we say "Public Health Grid"?

To some, it's the specific technologies. To others, it's a conceptual technical architectures. To me, it's the business of public health.

For us to develop a technical framework that meets the needs of the public health community, we need to understand the public health community, and how it works.

In my mind the Public Health Community is already set as distributed social relationships and funding mechanisms. A gaping hole is the access to information and the supporting information framework to support that distribution. This is the potential value of grid technologies -- they are the framework that fits. We just need to align them to the reality (and perhaps work on realigning some of the details of the social and funding frameworks, without altering the mission).

So, as a non-techie, in my world, the Public Health Grid is:

1. The Social Network of Public Health. This includes public health departments, clinical partners, academics, and industry. Note: Epidemiologists are one very small -- albeit important -- part of the that social network.

2. The Funding Network. This is what pays for the Social Network to exist. One open question is it aligned to where it needs to be?

3. The Technical Network. What we are trying to build now IS realigning the legacy to better meet the Social Network.

Bear in mind, the numerical order of these is intentional. Work needs to be done in all three, but we are at a point where the potential of 3 can be explored, but at its maximum when 1 & 2 are understood.

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