The National Retail Data Monitor (NRDM) has monitored over-the-counter (OTC) medication sales in the United States since December 2002. The NRDM collects data from over 18,600 retail stores and processes over 0.6 million sales records per day. This paper describes key architectural features that we have found necessary for a data utility component in a national biosurveillance system. These elements include event-driven architecture to provide analyses of data in near real time, multiple levels of caching to improve query response time, high availability through the use of clustered servers, scalable data storage through the use of storage area networks and a web-service function for interoperation with affiliated systems. The methods and architectural principles are relevant to the design of any production data utility for public health surveillance-systems that collect data from multiple sources in near real time for use by analytic programs and user interfaces that have substantial requirements for time-series data aggregated in multiple dimensions.
Tsui FC, Espino JU, Weng Y, Choudary A, Su HD, Wagner MM. (2005). Key design elements of a data utility for national biosurveillance: event-driven architecture, caching, and Web service model. AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings. AMIA Symposium