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Using GIS to create synthetic disease outbreaks

Rochelle E Watkins*, Serryn Eagleson, Sam Beckett, Graeme Garner, Bert Veenendaal, Graeme Wright and Aileen J Plant

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2007, 7:4  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-7-4

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Could the programme code be made available under a free, open source license?

Tim Churches   (2007-03-22 14:01)  Centre for Epidemiology and Research, New South Wales Department of Health, Australia email

The authors describe a useful software tool for studying hypothetical disease outbreaks. The tool would be of even greater utility if it were to be made freely available to as many other public health practitioners as possible. The optimal manner in which to do this would be to release the programme code and associated documentation under a free, open source license - any one of the licenses listed at The software code can be made available through one of the free open source software respositories, such as or

This would allow those with access to the proprietary MapInfo GIS software to immediately use and adapt the software, and would also allow others to study the code and potentially translate it for use with other widely-used GIS platforms, such that sold by ESRI or the several, excellent, free, open-source GIS platforms that are now available.

The use of a "copyleft" open-source license for the code would simultaneously minimise any impedance for other researchers wishing to build upon or make use of this work, while preventing commercial exploitation of the work by third parties. I urge the authors to adopt this path.

Tim Churches

Competing interests



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