GEMMA maps out the distribution of animal diseases quickly and precisely

Web application GEMMA has been developed by Alterra Wageningen UR for the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) in order to be able to closely monitor the development and distribution of animal diseases.

Information from the computer systems of various organisations can be made available through one website.

In the event of an outbreak of a serious animal disease, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) coordinates the government action. The NVWA, part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, has to be able to intervene both rapidly and effectively in order to prevent the spread of, for example, Foot and Mouth Disease, Bluetongue and avian flu. To that end, the public service requires up-to-date information from various agencies. Examples of that information might be about how an animal disease develops and spreads (The Animal Health Service), but also about the cattle farms that are located in the vicinity of a contaminated business (The National Service for the Implementation of Regulations).

GIS application

Because in the past not all information was available at a particular time for the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), Alterra developed GEMMA, a Geographical Information system (GIS). The project was commissioned by the VWA and is financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. GEMMA (Geographic Event Management and Monitoring Application) does more than offering access to information from various computer systems. It links this information to locations by means of digital maps. This means that staff from all services can not only see that a business is contaminated, but they can also see the position of the buildings and plots of the business in question. All of this information is available on the Internet at all times.

Portable computers

GEMMA can be used in order to draw the geographical boundaries of quarantined areas around a contaminated business on a digital map. When a contaminated business is found in a certain region, employees in that field can immediately be informed of that using GEMMA. This provides a complete picture of the contaminated business and the businesses in the immediate vicinity, the position of the plots, the number of animals and the risk of contamination. Immediate measures can be taken in order to prevent further spread. The introduction of GEMMA should, in practice, deliver time savings to the animal health care services. After all, all parties quickly receive the relevant information in a digital form.