Data-driven health logistics in the Indo-Pacific

Zoe Wang
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Oct 5, 2021

Data-driven health logistics in the Indo-Pacific

Zoe Wang

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Oct 5, 2021

Healthcare workers in many Indo-Pacific countries like Palau, Samoa, and Fiji face a daunting challenge of coordinating health supplies and data across widespread islands, remote populations, and inefficient data silos. Recent health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of maintaining efficient, functional and integrated electronic health systems to support health workers and coordinate services.

Enter Tupaia: a data aggregation, analysis, and visualisation platform designed for health workers in the most remote settings in the world. Tupaia is built by Beyond Essential Systems, an Australian company that designs and implements health and education software solutions in the Indo-Pacific region.

Mapping health systems live

Tupaia visualizes health data in interactive maps built with GL JS to give a bird’s eye view to decision makers, health workers, donors, and members of the public who have questions about the distribution of medicines, equipment, infrastructure, staff, services and research. 

“Being able to customize our Mapbox style enabled us to reduce the visible features so they can still provide context to the data without drowning it out. Using Mapbox tilesets, we can allow users to turn on or off various layers - one to emphasize water features, another for roads, another for terrain - to view data in a series of contexts.”
- Kurt Johnson, Software Development Project Manager

Governments and other healthcare providers use Tupaia’s maps to improve medicines availability, track outbreaks, respond to disasters, and improve service delivery. Patients use Tupaia sites to locate appropriate care quickly and safely. And donors use Tupaia to monitor performance metrics.

Born out of a project to geolocate health facilities across the Indo-Pacific, Tupaia has grown to become a flexible platform for immunization programs, disaster response, disease surveillance, and emergency operations across the region. Data can be combined from numerous sources including DHIS2, mSupply and other apps built by Beyond Essential Systems like supply tracker MediTrak and patient records system Tamanu

“We began using Mapbox as a convenient framework on which to overlay data. For a long time we considered it simply as a background. Once we began to explore the complete customization feature set of Mapbox Studio, we realized it could provide our partners with valuable customization options for how data is presented.”
- Kurt Johnson, Software Development Project Manager

National vaccine roll-out in Samoa

Samoa is one of several countries using Tupaia to manage its national COVID-19 vaccination roll-out. Field data collection app Tamanu is used by vaccination teams to record the administration of vaccines. The field data is then de-identified, aggregated, and visualized using Tupaia so health officials can monitor the vaccine roll-out across metrics such as % coverage down to the village level.

Tupaia’s data team is supporting the roll-out by producing in-depth analyses in conjunction with Samoa’s National Emergency Operation Centre and providing public health updates on social media and other media platforms. 

“This is extremely useful information for those who are not too tech savvy but need real-time data to make critical decisions. Using a single system for data entry and analysis, Samoan health officials can map data at the national, provincial, district and household level.” - Michael Nunan, Director

The importance of flexibility

Tupaia benefits from the multiple ways to add data to a Mapbox GL JS map. For data that is hosted within the Tupaia database or served from a third-party API, Tupaia loads those as new Sources and overlays them as layers on top of the map style. 

“The flexibility of a custom GL JS map is such that we can connect, aggregate, and visualize data from numerous customer-facing APIs to add layers for anything from school facilities to sanitation data to vaccination data to even weather data.”
- Kurt Johnson, Software Development Project Manager

For data that needed closer styling integration with the basemap, or needed to be tiled to improve performance such as population data, those datasets are uploaded into Mapbox Studio to create custom tilesets. The custom tilesets are used as optional layers for users to ‘underlay’ in the map style, in addition to the external data overlays.

“The most valuable innovation is the styling of individual tilesets and layers. We can turn on or off different geographical features as easily as with a CSS stylesheet. Using the Mapbox API to bring tilesets into our platform has been revolutionary.”
- Kurt Johnson, Software Development Project Manager

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Connect with the BES team to learn more about Tupaia and their wider toolkit for health, education, and disaster response systems.

Connect with Mapbox Community if you’re using maps for public health and would like to partner with Mapbox.

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