Thursday, September 24, 2009

A web-based portal for PHGrid - Initial screenshots for discussion

I keep thinking about the public health workforce….and their most-likely perspective on our PHGrid activity. My thought is, what matters to them is that they are provided a new, robust and intuitive resource at their disposal that makes their work easier - not that it's a cool technology based on the globus toolkit, and leverages grid computing.

Thus, to better demonstrate to the public heath community the potential capability of the PHGrid architecture and ecosystem, I created some wireframe mockups articulating my thoughts around a web-based PHGrid portal. The goal of this is to demonstrate to users that PHGrid is not just about 1 GIPSE (aggregate data) service and 1 web-based geographic mapping "viewer" (i.e., a PHGrid Gadget)- but about a dynamic ecosystem potentially consisting of hundreds of different PHGrid resources (services, applications, Gadgets, etc) created by many and shared among many. This portal would provide a user-friendly, single, secure, access point to PHGrid resources (services, applications, Gadgets, Data, Computational power, etc.).

These wireframe screenshots are very crude….have many errrors, and are in no way exhaustive. They are at least a starting point for discussion.

Of course, there may end up being many more features of the portal - but I really do see it requiring 3 fundamental components:

1. General, secure, customizable PHGrid dashboard. I see this as a combination of MyYahoo, iGoogle, and iTunes for PHGrid. It combines, for example, social networking, eLearning, news, alerting, and statistics.

2. Real-time directory of available PHGrid resources. This combines features of an automated standards-based (UDDI) registry with integrated social aspects of eBay and Users can quickly look for specific resources (services, applications, etc), examine their strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately request access to the resource. In other words, this part of the portal provides user-friendly access to a dynamic PHGrid resource ecosystem.

3. MyGrid - A user-defined PHGrid "workbench." This part of the portal allows users to customize a pallet of resources which are important / relevant to them - and which simplifies the process of organizing PHGrid resources.

Depending on the access control requirements - the user may be able to obtain immediate access to the resource- or may have to wait for the resource provider to grant access. Some resources may even require a document to be filled out and submitted. As can be seen in the Access Status feature of the site, this feature will allow the requesting user to monitor the status of his/her request - regardless of the specific process. Once the user has been granted authorization, he/she can use the Service/Gadget Automation tool to create ad-hoc and recurrent workflows / macros - tying together multiple resources. This would have aspects of both the taverna workbench and yahoo pipes. Clearly this area needs a lot of work..but I feel it may grow into a much larger aspect of the site.

Here is an example of a workflow (i.e., a macro) that could be created and saved - to be run at any time - or automated to run on a recurrent based:

After logging into the system with their secure credentials, a state epidemiologist goes to the MyGrid part of the portal. They then complete the following steps:

1. Requests specific data elements from data source X [service a]
2. Combines this data with data from source y [service b]
3. Runs a Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine on one data field from source y to convert a large chunk of text from a family history field into discrete coded data elements [service c]
4. Performs geospatial analytics on the newly generated data set z [service d]
5. Visualizes the analytic output using specific criterial [gadget e]
6. Creates images from the visualization tool and exports them to a web-based tool to be accessed by his/her colleagues at the local and county health departments within that state [service f and gadget g]
7. The user saves this workflow, and configures it to run every night at midnight.

I look forward to others thoughts on this. My hope is that we can create a very rough mock-up of this in the near future. It's my belief that it is only through the creation of a resource such as this, that we can clearly articulate the real value of PHGrid's robust, secure, SOA-based architecture / ecosystem to the overall public health community, and not just to the IT and informatics savvy public health workforce.

Thanks! Tom


Brian Alexander Lee said...

I think these are extremely useful to for visualizing all of the services that people think PHGrid needs. We have the service registry and of course lots of ideas for services, but these mockups start to show what kind of infrastructures need to be extended in Globus.

For example, your mockups show the need for monitoring services to track the availability and uptime of services; discovery services for tracking metadata description for services; security services for personalizing the portal based on user authorization; orchestration services for building and running the workflows you can design. These mockups get us closer to actually having a service portfolio from which we can develop.

Tom Savel, MD said...


Thank you for your comments. Already it occurs to me that as a user, once you create a very powerful workflow, you can go ahead and share that workflow with the rest of the community. (Of course, once another user chooses to download a submitted will only work if the user has access to the Gadgets and services it uses / calls).

Ron Price said...

Very useful comments and description of desired phgrid portal behavior. Thanks Tom.