BIREME Bulletin n° 4

Advances in VHL technological platform and its information sources

In the past three years, BIREME/PAHO/WHO has been working to update the Web systems used in the publication of Virtual Health Library (VHL) portals, as well as those aimed at managing the bibliographic databases that comprise its network of information sources. Such updates aim to improve the processes of production and publication of contents, as well as to facilitate access and use of information and scientific evidence in health at the tecnologialocal, national, and regional levels.

Updating these systems implies in promoting relevant changes in the technological platform used by BIREME, and in developing internal work and collaboration processes with the Cooperating Center Network. Some of the challenges found are to adjust the use of new technologies, to search for new technical knowledge based on current trends, and to introduce new work practices without, however, jeopardizing the operation of information products and services offered through the VHL, the Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS), the Health Sciences Descriptors (DeCS), and other initiatives.

The changes promoted are supported by the adoption of free and open software platforms that are directed to the publication of portals, development of Web systems, storage and indexing of large information volumes, use of international standards in information and computing sciences, adoption of service-based architecture, application of agile project management and development methods, as well as adoption of software as service practices (SaS).

The information technology advances observed in the knowledge society are followed by impressive figures related to the volume of content produced, shared, and consumed in the world. According to the Gartner Group, 2.2 million terabytes of new data are created every day. The estimate is that in 2020 there will be 40 trillion gigabytes of data in our planet. Still for the same year, the Big Data Business website estimates there will be more than 6 billion smartphone users, which – together with other types of devices – will go past 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. These large volumes projected are already observed in our day-to-day: on YouTube, for instance, more than 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute. In the same time span, 2 million searches are performed on Google, 100 thousand messages are posted on Twitter, and 200 million e-mails are sent.

There are many challenges in the BIREME/PAHO/WHO technical cooperation when we put into context these projections in management of health information and knowledge, but they come along with new opportunities. In 2016, BIREME/PAHO/WHO was able to incorporate quality management and data visualization tools and processes, improving information retrieval, and enabling the generation of infometrics data and offering new value-added information services, capable of supporting analysis of scientific output and subsidizing managers in decision-making processes. The incorporation of multimedia contents in the VHL, adaptation of web interfaces for mobile devices, and the replacement of 11 old VHL information systems by three new systems developed with modern technologies in 2016 are other important landmarks for BIREME, approaching its 50th anniversary, and working to keep the excellence of its technical cooperation in management, dissemination and use of health information and scientific evidence.

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