184831 Role of metadata in environmental public health tracking

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 2:30 PM

Gonza Namulanda, MS , Environmental Health Tracking Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

The effect of the environment on health outcomes is difficult to identify and remains largely unknown. A primary reason for this is the lack of data available for performing analysis on how exposure to environmental hazards may adversely affect health.

The Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Network (Tracking Network) provides an opportunity for public health practitioners to access more data than previously possible. The availability of metadata about the data sets on the Tracking Network would enable users to search for and discover data for public health action and decision making.


The charge of the metadata sub-group was to create a metadata standard for the Tracking Network, that will capture metadata on both geographic and nonČ-geographic data sets. Data stewards should be able to use the standard to create descriptive metadata that provides critical information as to the purpose, location, content, and source of data. The metadata should also help public health practitioners and other users of the Tracking Network to determine the appropriate uses of a data set.


The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Content Standard for Geospatial Metadata was selected for describing data resources on the Tracking Network. An EPHT metadata profile based on the FGDC standard was developed which represents the minimum set of metadata elements required for making data sources available on the Tracking Network.

A web-based metadata creation and management tool was developed that can support the FGDC standard.


The use of the EPHT metadata profile and the Metadata Creation and Management tool has made it possible for data stewards to create standardized descriptive metadata for data resources on the network.

The metadata helps the network users to locate, evaluate, access and use the datasets that meet their needs. Standardized metadata also allows consistent searching for all datasets on the network.

Learning Objectives:
1. Have a basic knowledge of the definition of descriptive metadata. 2. Understand the importance of descriptive metadata to the Tracking Network. 3. Know the steps taken by the EPHT Metadata Subgroup to implement the use of descriptive metadata on the Tracking Network

Keywords: Environmental Health, Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a co-chair on the metadata subgoup of the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network for the past year and a half. The charge of this group was to develop a metadata standard for environmental public health tracking and to gather functional requirements and consultation on developing a metadata creation tool.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.