The University of Pittsburgh has launched Project Tycho, a Web site offering open access to digitized U.S. weekly reported surveillance data for contagious diseases dating back to 1888.

There are no restrictions to use of the data. In the past 125 years, disease reporting processes changed regularly, leading to different data counts (cases or deaths in a specific location and time period). This complicated integrating and standardizing the data, which currently is available through three levels of varying completeness.

Level 1 data is customized for specific analyses of complete and standardized data for a limited number of diseases (8), locations and years, according to the university. Level 2 data are standardized sets for immediate use containing a large number of diseases (47), locations and years, but the data is not complete as standardization continues. Level 3 data have not been standardized and are insufficient for analysis, and available only by request.

Project Tycho is named for Tycho Brahe, a 15th Century Danish nobleman who’s astronomical and planetary observations later led to the laws of planetary motion. “Similarly, this project aims to advance the availability of large scale public health data to the worldwide community to accelerate advancements in scientific discovery and technological progress,” according to the University of Pittsburgh.

More information is at http://www.tycho.pitt.edu/.

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