location privacy in public health practice


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It's all nice and dandy to come up with analyses, suggestions and recommendations, but tools also need to be developed to implement all of these. To encourage the development of such tools, some prototypes and designs have been created and are suggested.


One of the things that became quite obvious from the survey on the perceptions of the public health community is that bureaucracy and legislation are perceived to be privacy-related barriers to public health practice. With the increasing requirement for cross-jurisdictional public health, as well as the readability issues of legislation, it would be helpful to provide public health professionals with a tool that allows them to quickly grasp the critical and relevant issues within the legislation across multiple jurisdictions. A prototype design of such a tool is found below. Note that it currently only provides information for federal Canadian legislation as well as for the province of British Columbia. The tool was created with Adobe Flash.

Multidimensional Point Transform

Currently this is only a static image of what a proposed interface to such a tool might look like.

Data-Sharing Location-Privacy Framework

The first file is a downloadable Microsoft Office Excel file that allows the user to set weights and scoring threshold, and run through an implementation of the framework based on the defined settings. The worksheets are protected to avoid accidental changes; settings can be changed on the "ADMINISTRATION" tab, and ratings can be completed on the "ASSESSMENT" tab. The remaining tabs simply allow the user to view the assessment process and returned results. Visual assessments re provided for each domain, as well as the final recommendation, and changes are dynamic - i.e. as the user changes the ratings, the assessment changes are immediately reflected. The second file is an example of what a web-based protoype tool might look like to help in the implementation of the proposed framework. The prototype was created in Microsoft Blend SketchFlow 4. To view the prototype, you must download the zipped file, unzip it to your local drive and then open the "Default.html" file in your web browser.

If you have any feedback on any of the above, good or bad, please drop me a note!


(Methods of Information in Medicine, 2011)

A Method for Managing Re-Identification Risk from Small Geographic Areas in Canada
(BMC Med Inform Decis Mak, 2010)

Musings on Privacy Issues in Health Research Involving Disaggregate Geographic Data About Individuals (Int J Health Geogr, 2009)

Evaluating Predictors of Geographic Area Population Size Cut-offs (JAMIA, 2009)

The Perceived Impact of Location Privacy
(BMC Public Health, 2008)

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Please note: the views expressed on this site are those of the author, and do not necessarily
reflect those of the institutions supporting this research

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©Philip AbdelMalik