The Interactive Collaborative Environments team uses Web technology to bridge the gap between researchers and their data. ICE builds Web servers and databases that enable the storage and analysis of data, and facilitates interactions with these data through Web portals that can be restricted access or open to the general public.

Spatial Repellents

Notre Dame biologists Nicole Achee and Neil Lobo are leaders of an international $23 million research grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their five-year project will generate the data required to show the effectiveness of a new paradigm in mosquito control - spatial repellency- for the prevention of two important mosquito-borne diseases: malaria and dengue fever. Despite decades of organized mosquito control efforts, the diseases caused by these pathogens remain significant global health problems. Current global adult mosquito control strategies such as insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying for malaria and space-spraying for dengue can be effective under certain circumstances but are limited in combating the transmission of these pathogens in all areas where the diseases occur.

Ensayo (Spanish for rehearsal or test) began as a prototype, Web-based system for training those who work in emergency operations centers (EOCs)—organizations that activate during a disaster—and modeling activities that take place there. EOCs are unique in that, when active, they have primary responsibility for public safety under the guidelines of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Accordingly, they bring together dozens of private and public organizations that would rarely interact under normal conditions. However, while in this temporary, but highly complex, meta-structure, these organizations must communicate, coordinate, and cooperate to succeed.

VectorBase

VectorBase is an NIAID Bioinformatics Resource Center for Invertebrate Vectors of Human Pathogens. It is a centralized portal housing the genomic information for disease carrying agents, such as Anopheles gambiae, the principle vector for malaria which afflicts nearly 500 million people world-wide. We partner with Ensembl, the Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Harvard, and Imperial College London to provide the ability to search, browse, visualize, and annotate hosted genetic data through an array of popular web-tools such as BLAST and the Ensemble Gene Browser housed and supported at Notre Dame. As a member Bioinformatics Resource Center (BRC), VectorBase also participates in linking housed data to the Pathogen Portal in an ongoing effort to centralize NIAID efforts in providing bioinformaticians with the latest data useful in combating deadly disease.

VecNet was founded in 2011 to address the concerns and recommendations of the Malaria Eradication Research Agenda (malERA) initiative. The initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a collection of 12 reviews highlighting the outcomes of a series of consultations from more than 250 experts on malaria from 36 countries. VecNet is creating an analytic framework that will assemble all known data on malaria transmission and make it accessible through mathematical models in an intuitive and user-friendly manner. This openly shared set of resources will facilitate interactions and communication between scientists to support research activities, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation of programs and interventions; allow malaria control programs to select the optimal intervention combination for a given geographic area based on vector behaviors; and effectively inform strategic planning and malaria elimination assessments at a range of scales from global policy to local-level planning.

Varieties of Democracy

The Varieties of Democracy project leverages the Plone content management system to collect and analyze democracy data from around the world. Hosted by the Kellogg Institute and the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg, this project differs from the Peace Accords Matrix in that data are provided interactively through the website by knowledge-experts working abroad. The second iteration of the project (now under development) includes significant enhancements to administrative and data entry web pages, and enables several ways visualize data in chart-form.

Peace Accords Matrix

The Peace Accords Matrix project offers a good example of how a Web technology can bridge the gap between researchers and their data. Here, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies engaged the CRC's ICE team to rapidly build a Web server and database that would enable the storage and analysis of data related to peace accords throughout the world. Interactions with these data by the general public are made possible through a clickable map and a search dialog page. Data can be viewed online or downloaded as comma-delimited files.

Collaboratory for Adaptation to Climate Change

The Collaboratory for Adaptation to Climate Change is an effort to fill a significant gap in understanding about adaptation to climate change. Here, we are building a virtual organization for transformative research and outreach. Drawing from a variety of tools (e.g., cyberinfrastructure, data and knowledge management, simulations, scenario analysis, and visual analytics) the collaboratory’s goals include interdisciplinary integration and sound policy development regarding adaptation to climate change.

Malaria Transmission Consortium

The MTC is a project patterned after the Garki Portal: a database of information related to malaria and its epidemiology combined with a Web portal front-end. Sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this project includes international collaborators who are gathering and analyzing data from Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, the Solomon Islands, and Mali. The purpose of the MTC is to establish an evidence base that can help malaria control program managers make informed decisions about monitoring malaria transmission and implementing or adjusting malaria control interventions.

The Garki Project

The Garki Project was a study conducted by the WHO and the Nigerian Government from 1969-1976 on the effects of various methods to control the spread of malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Garki is the name of a district in Nigeria where the study was conducted.) The project’s data were collected on paper, transferred to magnetic tape, and eventually converted to SQL. The Garki Project Website is an effort to make the Garki Project’s now static database accessible and easily queried through a convenient Web interface. Moreover, work done on the Garki Project is now being used as a springboard for handling similar data from other, modern studies of mosquitoes and malaria.

Illustrative Information Interface

The Illustrative Information Interface (III) is a Web application that enables users to graphically and textually document perceived government repression. It accepts both historical and current information starting from the year 1900. Anyone with access to the Internet can use III to register his or her view of the scope and severity of government repression for a particular geographic area. The results of this information are immediately available, anonymously, for study.