Recent government legislation highlights the need for co-operative working by government agencies to improve the overall health of people and to help reduce the existing health inequalities in England. To effectively tackle health inequalities, access to a range of timely and relevant data sets about a region is vital. The Multi-Agency Internet Geographic Information Service (MAIGIS) project is a 3-yr pilot project funded by the Public Health Development Fund to establish an interactive map-based web site for sharing health and health related data for the West Midlands Region (http://maigis.wmpho.org.uk). Data sets within the MAIGIS project follow three broad themes of health, socioeconomic and environmental information. Data are made available by different organisations and shared using a geography as the linking theme. This paper discusses the use of Internet GIS technology for sharing health and health related data based on the issues that arose during the formative period of the MAIGIS project. Issues such as data confidentiality, amalgamation and copyright are discussed and the technical development of the project is outlined. The links that MAIGIS has formed with other regional and national initiatives for the sharing of health and health related information are also presented. Finally, the future work programme for the MAIGIS project is summarised. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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