Custom software by Research IT

Research IT crafts individualized solutions for biomedical researchers by customizing pre-existing tools or by writing new software. Creating custom software, particularly for systems containing sensitive data, is a Research IT specialty. Here are just a few examples of our work.

Problem

Neighborhoods often have small but significant barriers to good health. Simply by being less “walkable,” a neighborhood will discourage physical activity. Sidewalks may be disconnected or in poor condition. A traffic light may be too short to allow the mobility-impaired to cross safely. A farmer’s market may be hard to access. A clogged storm drain may create a breeding ground for mosquitoes. All this information is scattered and difficult to gather and utilize.

Solution

The Our Voice initiative, led by Dr. Abby King, Professor of Health Research & Policy (Epidemiology) and Medicine. Our Voice is centered on an easy-to-use Discovery Tool app written by Research IT which allows neighborhood residents to become “citizen scientists” who walk their neighborhoods, take geotagged photos, and make audio recordings.

Uploaded data is stored in REDCap, the database is customized for the project by Research IT, and can be discussed with other citizen scientists, and potential solutions presented to city planners, policymakers, and others to determine where repairs and other changes would make the most difference. The data is also shared with researchers.

Results

In 2016 the Our Voice Global Research Network was formed to implement Our Voice projects globally. Today, in a dozen countries, in big cities and villages, thousands of people are using Our Voice to make communities healthier and safer.

In 2020, the platform was used in the Visible Ghosts of Isaan project to track and document community health and wellbeing in the Northern Thai region of Rasi Salai, an area impacted negatively by the building of an upstream dam.