In April 2011, we began working with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) on a project called ECHO: Electronic Communication for Health Operations. The project was focused on helping the NYC DOHMH improve the ability of their Community Outreach Teams (COT) to gather emergency preparedness and response-related data in the field.
These Community Outreach Teams teams deploy into local communities in order to share information as well as capture location-based data from those communities. The goal of the ECHO project was to support the COT teams by allowing them to create and fill out electronic surveys on a handheld devices and then transmit that information back to the Emergency Operations Center for analysis — in near real-time.
Now, in situations that require an investigation (such as a potential disease outbreak) these teams will be able to create survey based forms and push them out to a team of people who each has their own Motorola Xoom tablet. The team will then collect answers to the survey by interviewing affected communities, and push them back to the server where they will later be able to export it to a Geographical Information System (GIS) tool.