New mobile tool to aid in collecting data for community preparedness and public health decision making
September is National Preparedness Month, a nationwide effort to encourage households, businesses and communities to take action in preparing for emergencies. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response is focusing on ways communities can be prepared to respond.
Technology can be employed to help communities rapidly collect information for public health decision making and emergency response. To that end, the North Carolina Institute for Public Health recently developed Collect SMART, a suite of software designed to help agencies manage and implement community-based data collection efforts.
With direct funding from the UNC Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (UNC PERLC), Collect SMART was developed as a free mobile platform for obtaining high-quality, representative data to assist local health agencies with data collection projects, including community health needs assessments and pre- and post-disaster assessments.
Using Collect SMART, project managers determine where to sample in their communities, and then upload the samples to their mobile devices, on which the Collect SMART app has been installed. Project managers also can monitor team progress and location and analyze results in real time, as data is uploaded and stored securely on the cloud.
So far, Collect SMART has been implemented in seven North Carolina communities with the assistance of more than 350 health agencies and community members who provided feedback to refine and improve Collect SMART tools.