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Enroute to Health Datapalooza, Esri’s Davenhall Sees Opportunity in Apps

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term “geomedicine” and introduced its “My Place History” app for the iPhone and iPad, which enables users to correlate the places where they have lived with proximity to certain types of environmental hazards. Esri introduced an updated version of the app yesterday, incorporating fresh data released in March from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory.

Esri’s app serves as a case study in using health data to develop innovative products and services, even though the EPA maintains the nationwide database and not the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In this respect, Davenhall says the data liberation program that Park helped to push during his previous tenure as Health and Human Services’ CTO has made the health data initiative “one of the bright spots in a rather ho-hum field of federal data.” In fact, Davenhall compares the two-day conference to a hackathon, where new opportunities for innovation can generate a buzz among software developers.

Davenhall credits Park with pushing HHS to unlock its vaults of medical data, and for helping to spark interest in the opportunities for using the data among entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. That’s why the government’s “health data initiative” is now a “health datapalooza.”

Esri, which convenes its annual International Users Conference on July 21 at the San Diego Convention Center, also sees opportunities in this area, Davenhall says.

“Until recently, we didn’t spend much time supporting the smaller, I call them mom-and-pop developers,” Davenhall says. But now Esri has Myles Sutherland, who previously oversaw business development in mobile markets, working as the Los Angeles-based manager for emerging business (i.e., incubating and accelerating startups).

Because many of the startups developing new health apps are working out of makeshift office spaces, Davenhall says Sutherland is now spending most of his time “visiting the coffee shops between San Diego and Santa Cruz.”

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