What is Gossamer Health?
Gossamer Health is an open source information system for collecting and organizing syndromic surveillance data, and other health indicator data, for a population.
Is Gossamer Health the same as Distribute?
No. Gossamer Health tools are used in the data collection infrastructure, data integration and notification mechanisms, and the visualizations of surveillance indicators that comprise the Distribute restricted site. That site permits contributing public health agencies to view detailed influenza and gastro-intestinal (GI) indicators at: https://isds-auth.cirg.washington.edu. Gossamer Health also underlies the part of Distribute that sends aggregated and regional data to the Distribute Public Site. More information about the Distribute Project, and the Distribute Community of Practice, may be found here: http://isdsdistribute.org/
Gossamer are the tools
Distribute is the ISDS system, the influenza data, the community of practice...
Gossamerheath is a scaled down surveillance system, intended to be run at a local or state health jurisdiction, or on the Cloud (including Amazon EC2), which based on the Gossamer tools. Gossamerhealth is what you can download, play with, modify, contribute to, and use as you see fit...
To use the Cloud, or not to use the Cloud...?
There's lots of discussion about the Cloud - the benefits of outsourcing infrastructure, improving scalability, decreasing capital and operating costs, weighed against risks such as loss of control over data, service levels, and security. A full consideration of these issues is complex and might start with a Google search on "cloud computing risks and benefits"...
But, with Gossamer, you can have it both ways. Deploy on the Cloud, or deploy on a local system as a simple appliance. Start with one approach and move to the other. Its all good.
Gossamer is built on a flexible virtual machine (VM) appliance model, which we've used to deploy different applications as servers in many settings (http://www.turnkeylinux.org/). We've used Turnkey-based VMs on the commercial grade servers supporting Distribute and other core UW informatics projects, on the Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) infrastructure, on laptops and micro-servers supporting clinic systems in Haiti and laboratories in Cote d'Ivoire, and personal desktop systems for both evaluation and development work. They work.