ANN: Version 0.9 of NetEpi Case Manager

Tim Churches tchur at optushome.com.au
Tue Jun 14 20:54:58 CEST 2005


Version 0.9 of NetEpi Case Manager is now available via
http://www.netepi.org

NetEpi Case Manager is a tool (built using Python, the Albatross Web
application framework for Python, and PostgreSQL) for securely
collecting structured information about cases and contacts of
communicable (and other) diseases of public health importance, through
Web browsers and the Internet.

New data collection forms can be designed and deployed quickly
by epidemiologists, using a Web browser 'point-and-click' interface,
without the need for knowledge of or training in any programming
language. Data can then be collected from authenticated users of the
system, who can be located anywhere in the world, into a centralised
database. All that is needed by users of the system is a relatively
recent Web browser and an Internet connection (“NetEpi” is short for
“Network-enabled Epidemiology”).

Development of NetEpi Case Manager has been motivated in large part by
the challenge of collecting rapidly changing data from many sources in
the event of an outbreak of an emerging communicable disease, such as
SARS and HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza). However, we hope that
it has utility in addressing other distributed, ad hoc data collection
problems in the public health and health care domains.

A list of prerequisites and installation notes are available at
http://sourceforge.net/docman/display_doc.php?docid=28865&group_id=123700

Version 0.9 incorporates a large number of improvements over previous
versions, including:

* simplification of and cosmetic improvements to the user interface and
  workflow - sample screenshots available
  at http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?group_id=123700;

* greater robustness and improved security;

* improved validation of field inputs;

* the ability to specify help pages (and images) for each question on
  a form;

* the ability to roll-forward data collected with previous versions of
  a form to the latest version;

* the ability to export contact as well as case information in a
  "flattened" format suitable for analysis and reporting;

* comprehensive end-user and administrator guides (the latter over 100
  pages long);

* additional installation options to allow easier customisation;

* much greater speed when deployed via FastCGI on the Web server;

* an initial suite of functional tests using the excellent open source
  Selenium web application test environment, as well as some  additional
  unit tests.

We welcome feedback (and bug reports) on this new release, as well as
contributions to future releases. Please contact us directly by email or
use the NetEpi mailing list (see
http://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/netepi-discuss ).

We have a long list of additional features and potential improvements
which could be added to Case Manager, and we would be very happy to hear
from experienced Python programmers wishing to contribute to this work.
We would also be very happy to hear from anyone willing to do further
work on the documentation (using OpenOffice2), and from anyone willing
to write additional Selenium test scripts, either in the Selenese
scripting language or in Python via the Selenium "driven" mode (or more
Python unit tests, for that matter).

Tim Churches and Andrew McNamara



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