Collaborative Software Initiative (CSI) today announced the release of the first open source, Web-based infectious disease reporting and management system.

The system will both protect citizens and meet the requirements for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS). NEDSS is the infrastructure cornerstone for the nation's Public Health Information Network (PHIN).

The disease reporting and management system, which is being piloted in Utah, will be adaptable in all 50 states and available under an open source license later this year. It is designed to support local health departments in the early detection and investigation of individual cases and local clusters of communicable diseases, while simultaneously meeting the state and federal needs of outbreak control, disease surveillance and epidemiologic research.

According to the December 2007 report from Trust for America's Health, only eight states are currently fully prepared to protect the public from disease, disasters and bio-terrorism. Many existing NEDSS solutions are either too expensive or outdated and don't meet the states' needs. CSI's open source infectious disease reporting and management system, developed with the collaborative software development model, is significantly less expensive and meets all local, state and federal requirements.

The collaborative software development model, based on a unique combination of industry standards, open source business practices, and Lean software development techniques was chosen in order to bring multiple stakeholders with a common need together.

"We are excited by the promise that this collaborative approach offers to our state," said Dr. Robert Rolfs, MD, state epidemiologist, Utah Department of Health. "This system meets our needs by making it easy for our doctors and nurses across a variety of counties to better protect people's health by detecting and preventing disease."

"The project is a perfect example of how collaboration in software can have an impact on society -- in this case, we can help prevent the spread of disease and improve quality of care for patients by developing a system that works for everyone," said Stuart Cohen, CEO of CSI. "The state of Utah is taking a necessary leadership role to begin the rollout of an infectious disease reporting and management system for the 21st century. We are very excited to enable that transition and to work with other states to deploy this important system."

"Disease surveillance is a critical component of public health, it serves to protect all of the citizens of our state on a daily basis. Through this unique partnership and approach to developing a solid detection management system, we believe we're serving our citizens' very best interests," said Jon Huntsman, Utah's Governor. "We're looking forward to partnering with our neighboring states to enable the same level of public health service across state lines."

The project has more than 100 contributors with a core team of 15 members, which includes doctors, nurses, and epidemiologists (subject matter experts) and IT managers from across the state, and CSI program managers and developers. It is being built with an open source software stack that includes Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, PostgreSQL, Apache HTTP Server, Apache Tomcat, Java and JRuby. The system and database resides and is maintained on servers managed by the Utah Department of Technology Services on its secure network, accessible by users in health departments across the state.

"The combination of Lean and open source allows us to provide high quality software releases early and often and to involve all the major stakeholders in the process," said Mike Herrick, program manager and project leader at CSI. "We look forward to rolling this out and talking to other states about how to implement it and improve the health and safety of their citizens."