December 21, 2012

In the Spotlight: Twelve Days of the Wildlife Health Event Reporter

Twelve Days of the Wildlife Health Event Reporter
Day 9: WHER’s Wish List to Santa

WHER's wish list to Santa Claus.
The Wildlife Health Event Reporter (WHER) has been a good little online application since it was launched in 2010. It has been working hard taking in reports, accumulating over 4,500 records about injured, sick and dead wildlife by the public and others concerned about wildlife health. It has also been busy taking requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week to create maps, tables and downloadable files with its data.

For Christmas, all WHER wants is to improve its effectiveness as a near real-time wildlife health communication and surveillance tool. It has included the following items for system improvements to its wish list to Santa (or to any open funding opportunities):
  • Expand alert options so that people can be notified by WHER of incoming wildlife health reports via email, feed or text message, such as: 
    • Size of event: Notifies a person only when a specific number of animals are reported in a given geographic area; larger events may indicate a disease outbreak and warrant field investigation.
    • Species: A person can create customized notifications for species they are researching, that are threatened or endangered, or that they have a particular interest in.
    • Geographic area: Filters reports from specific geographic areas (i.e. at a finer level than the state or administration equivalent, which is the current geographic alert option).

  • Assist groups (e.g. wildlife rehab centers, wildlife related volunteer programs, or state wildlife agencies) to create a feed from their database that delivers the wildlife health data they want to share with WHER and enables outside groups concerned about wildlife health can use and see.

  • Assist groups to establish their own alerts by which subscribers are notified via email or feed when reports related to their group’s project or organization are received by WHER.

  • Organize a consortium of WHER stakeholders to guide future developments, partnerships, and opportunities. Integrate wildlife health data with public and domestic animal health information to provide a global health perspective.

  • Utilize mobile reporting capabilities using smart phones or other mobile devices so WHER alerts can be texted to a mobile phone and speed up the notifications of wildlife health incidents reported to WHER (e.g. the wildlife biologist working in the field could receive a text alert from WHER to their phone).

  • Connect and mashup WHER data with other complementary data or information (e.g., social media posts, news reports from the Wildlife Disease News Digest).

  • Push WHER development into the open source software world, where external contributions from programmers could advance the software without added cost.

  • Expand outreach activities to increase public awareness and use of WHER in order to increase the wildlife morbidity and mortality dataset, which could potentially be used to forecast and predict the disease outbreaks.

Do You Have Ideas on How to Improve WHER?
If you have other suggestions on other modifications and/or additional alert ideas, please email the WHER team with your feedback to us at! Our readers always have awesome ideas!

Just as we hope your holiday wishes come true, we hope that Santa will bring WHER the means (maybe with a little funding support from the wildlife health community) to implement the improvements its little, ambitious heart desires to do.

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