Research Platform

PIISAC
Integrated Industry Research Platform

20180121_134749

Research tools for the digital age

Ausvet is introducing an innovative approach to sanitary research in Chile, by creating an integrated research platform.

Most of the information required to understand risk and protective factors for SRS and Caligus is already being recorded every day in company databases such as FishTalk and Mercatus. This includes things like mortalities, treatments, management activities and environmental conditions.

The traditional approach to research is to choose a small number of sites, and collect detailed information from each one, using a questionnaire. Staff on the site copy the data from their database and provide it to the researcher. This is slow and wasteful and usually only answers one single issue or question.

Ausvet’s approach to research is to first build sustainable research infrastructure – a data platform from which all future research can be conducted.  We take a much more sustainable, long term view to industry research needs.  It saves money, time and effort and gives powerful results back to the industry more quickly on a limitless number of research questions into the future.

Ausvet’s goal is to build trust and partnerships with industry and to implement strong instruments which ensure security, privacy and good governance of the data. The vision will integrate all the data from the existing company databases into this single research platform. Automated tools mean that there is no extra work for the companies. Data is integrated from every site, so the analysis is much more powerful, and the results are applicable to the whole industry.

Ausvet plans to support the creation of a representative industry group with responsibility for the governance of the research platform. Each company continues to own its data, and the governance group will decide on how the data should be used (which research questions), which researchers should have access (and to what data), and who should have access to any results.

In particular, it was agreed that the research platform is purely an industry resource, and that Sernapesca and other government bodies would not be able to access any of the information held in the platform.

The new anti-competition laws were also discussed. Ausvet has received legal advice (through Sernapesca) that the research platform will not be contravening these laws. This is because no company can access the detailed data from any other company – only the de-identified results of analysis of issues related to health management.

What is the Research Platform?

The Research Platform has been designed and developed to promote more unified, efficient research and response to problems and issues facing the industry.  It is an extremely powerful industry data management and analysis platform which will meet current urgent research demands; respond to changing priorities into the future; share research outcomes more efficiently; and measure the effectiveness of interventions over time. 

The Platform has the potential to build a stronger, more responsive industry and allow companies to develop greater resiliency to health and environmental problems in the future.

Some of its features include;

  • Relational data management platform using an SQL-based database
  • Highly secure and housed in the Cloud using Amazon Web Services
  • Online, with real-time access possible
  • Highly tailored access control through a sophisticated administrative interface
  • Integrated, de-identified data from company backups.
  • Automated data import and field data capture tools.
  • Automated data validation and quality checking
  • Sophisticated data analysis and visualisation tools 
  • Define and generate flexible, re-useable output reports, analyses and alerts
  • Highly flexible, adaptable system to meet changing needs and priorities
  • Industry owned, industry governed.

Why a Third Party manager?

Secure, commercial sized data systems require sophisticated monitoring, maintenance and management to ensure security, efficiency and responsiveness.  Ausvet has developed the Research Platform and will be the managers of the Research Platform in 2018.  The use of Third Party managers is a common model in data system management.  The IT expertise required is contracted out to specialists allowing the industry to concentrate on ‘core business’ whilst still maintaining complete control over the data itself.

What data will be included?

This rich data management platform will be able to analyse the hundreds of risk and protective factors which play a role in the health and well-being of animals.  Included in the Research Platform will be;

  • Full regular, complete company backups including
    • Disease and health data
    • Production data from the full production cycle (Hatchery, freshwater, saltwater…)
    • Management data
  • Data from additional sources such as environmental and climatic monitoring
  • Other future sources identified.

What will the Research Platform look like?  

This year, Ausvet will be the primary researchers using the Research Platform so the features available to others will be limited. 

If the industry chooses to maintain the Platform after 2018, approved researchers and participating companies will be able to use an increasing array of features according to the development choices made by the industry.  The future development will be in the industry’s hands.

Who will be able to access it and how?

Data access rules will be defined by the participating companies in the coming months. 

It is envisaged that approved and registered users from participating companies will be able to access their own company data as well as carefully defined, aggregated, de-identified data from across the industry (as defined by the governance committee).

Companies will also be able to run their own analyses and tailor output reports from the library of saved analyses.

Applications can be made to the governance body to conduct research using the full data sets.

What will the outputs or analyses look like?

Reports will be available in a variety of formats depending on their purpose – charts, tables, graphs and even maps (where appropriate).  These reports are intended to support decision-making, reduce effort and promote strongly, evidence-based management practices.

These outputs are defined using PostgreSQL and R as well as other tools.  These report definitions are saved in a library on the Platform and will have modifiable parameters which can be set according to the interests of the user.

Some companies may wish automated reports generated by the Research Platform and sent to contracted research bodies such as Aquabench or Intesal saving their own company time and effort.

Benefits of an integrated research platform

Throughout discussions a number of benefits of this approach were identified by companies themselves.  In the future, this research platform has the capacity to;

  • make the industry more resilient
  • allow faster responses to problems
  • save everyone time and money
  • handle extremely complex industry variables
  • allow multiple research questions to be answered simultaneously
  • improve perceptions of Chilean product
  • take into account full variability across Chile
  • include historical data
  • continue including data over coming years to provide added power to results
  • repeat analyses quickly using a library of analytical reports
  • allow industry to drive research priorities
  • better support existing work of other Chilean research groups
  • enable companies to identify knowledge gaps and improve data quality
  • assess new interventions, treatments and strategies and monitor results over time
  • add other data sources such as environmental, oceanographic etc

Producers, veterinarians, researchers and others in the industry have identified many important gaps in our current understanding of diseases currently causing significant losses.  This year will see a concentration on research into the protective and risk factors influencing SRS and Caligus, both significant issues facing the Chilean industry.

After the workshops being held in March, 2018 in Puerto Varas we will be able to better prioritise these outstanding research questions.  We will also identify appropriate scientists to access the Research Platform and help the industry by providing concrete solutions. 

Keep watching this space!!!

Ausvet plans to support the creation of a representative industry group with responsibility for the governance of the research platform. Each company continues to own its data, and the governance group will decide on how the data should be used (which research questions), which researchers should have access (and to what data), and who should have access to any results.

Industry governance group

  • Decide on rules for use and access
  • Decide on research priorities
  • Decide which researchers can access the data
  • Editorial control over outputs
  • Oversee security and privacy rules
  • Meet the challenges of the future in a responsive and consultative manner.