Part of the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health’s mandate is to conduct public health surveillance to guide the local development of public health programs and assist with timely response to public health events. Geographic Information System (GIS) applications are increasingly being used for public health purposes. GIS technology provides visual tools – through the creation of computerized maps, graphs, and tables of geographic data – that can assist with problem solving and inform decision-making. The Public Health Informatics team at KFL&A Public Health work on various surveillance projects, including several GIS applications. In 2011, the Public Health Information Management System (PHIMS) was developed using data that is primarily focused on environmental health and emergency preparedness.
The PHIMS tool uses GIS technology to enhance real-time situational awareness and assist with evidence informed decision-making to help protect the health of the population. PHIMS aims to enable visualization and spatial analysis of environmental data with underlying population based indicators. PHIMS consists of layers of environmental information across Ontario where users can view maps demonstrating environmental or demographic data as they apply to specific geographic areas. This is useful for observing where environmental events are occurring, detecting potential emergency situations, and identifying areas with vulnerable populations. By displaying available real-time data from multiple partners through the PHIMS system, public health events can be identified earlier to better prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
Introduction to PHIMS – presentation for the Association of Public Health Epidemiologists in Ontario (2015)