How can open data sewage be upcycled to improve public health?
Across Europe, innovative open data sewage initiatives are emerging to improve public health. Sewage carries a wealth of information about human health, including data on disease outbreaks, drug use, and environmental pollution. By analysing this data, public health officials can detect and respond to health threats more quickly and effectively.
As an example, the Netherlands monitors sewage to trace the coronavirus. The project started in February 2020 by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) and has grown to cover over 320 sewage treatment plants, providing early warnings of outbreaks and monitoring the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns. The results of the analysis are accessible in an open data set.
In addition to diseases, drug usage can also be tracked. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has combined open data from scientific studies datingback to 2011 into an interactive map showing drug usage across European cities. These results can be combined with other open data sets to verify validity or gain new insights. A possible example is the open dataset on illicit drug use in Slovenia over several years, across several studies.
Open data can be generated not only in scientific studies, but also through other means. For example, the open dataset on drug usage in Ireland and Northern Ireland consists of survey results published by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. Possible insights to be gained from this include the difference between reported and measured drug usage.
These initiatives are part of a wider trend towards the use of open data to improve public health. The European Union has been a leading supporter of open data initiatives, with a wealth of data available on data.europa.eu.