Where there is no cloud, there is sun

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Photo: Mark Kempe

Each year, governments, donors, multilateral aid and development organizations, academic and research organizations, commercial entities, and faith-based organizations invest billions of US dollars to improve the health care of citizens across the globe. Relying on data to truly understand impact, these organizations face a host of data challenges, including ethical use, privacy protection, and sovereignty, when using information technology to collect, manage, and analyze data, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) and conflict areas.  

2.4 billion people (30% of the world’s population) live in countries where the free and open-source software platform DHIS2 is used. Ministries of health in 73 nations use DHIS2 as the national health management information system, and when including non-governmental organization programs, DHIS2 is used in over 100 countries. DHIS2 has addressed and overcome many issues and obstacles surrounding the collection, storage and management of healthcare data. Many organizations, both private and public, use cloud hosted DHIS2 systems.

What happens when there is no cloud?

Cloud hosting is not an option everywhere, and in some locations, organizations must host DHIS2 on a local server, which leads to unique challenges. The lack of broadband Internet connectivity, a reliable power grid, skilled computer technicians, and air conditioning make local hosting difficult. Standard rack-mounted servers are impractical or unusable and there are no data closets or data centers. 

Agencies and organizations have attempted to overcome these limitations by providing caregivers with laptops, tablets, and smartphones for data collection and storage. This approach has several drawbacks. For example, caregivers must  carry multiple devices to enter data for the same patient, organizations spend precious financial resources on building applications and buying equipment instead of delivering aid, and equipment is underutilized or used for unintended purposes.

A global hosting solution for remote locations

BAO Systems has a vision of a world in which the transformative power of data is fully harnessed to enable thriving societies everywhere and has developed a solution to reflect this. BAO Edge is designed for hosting DHIS2 at the true edge. It enables organizations and agencies to deploy the reliable, scalable computing power of DHIS2 at the edge, on-premises at thousands of locations, in the same way they leverage DHIS2 via the cloud. The small, stable server is remotely managed, requires no special equipment, is easy to install and store, and while capable of accessing the Internet, it does not require an Internet connection to host DHIS2 in a local cloud environment.

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Ensuring safe and secure data

It is not always Internet connectivity or lack of technical competence that prevents the use of cloud based hosting. In some countries, patient data must physically remain within sovereign borders, requiring a local server. When using BAO Edge, each location is equipped with at least two local servers and data are replicated. DHIS2 has built-in data replication to in-country centers, and the replication works even with intermittent Internet connectivity. In the event that one BAO Edge fails, the other contains the identical data. Additionally, BAO Edge data storage is encrypted at rest and in transit, meaning data is protected.

Adapting and growing over time

DHIS2 is a health management information system designed to grow along with an organization’s new demands and new projects. BAO Edge is a platform that will evolve as DHIS2 databases expand or new applications, such as BAO Integration Driver, are added to the platform remotely. As the demand for computing power increases, more BAO Edge devices can easily be added on to an existing stack at any location in the world, no matter how remote.

Do you want to learn more about BAO Edge and discuss how this solution can meet your needs? No matter where you are in the world, please reach out to Dan Cocos, Chief Technology Officer, or complete the contact form.

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