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Christopher Jason 

Researchers and government leaders in the St. Louis area will be able to access demographic information and local COVID-19 data in one workflow.

The St. Louis Regional Data Alliance has launched the St. Louis Regional Data Exchange, an online portal that bonds more than 400 regional public data sets incorporating local COVID-19 and demographic data, according to an article published in the University of Missouri – St. Louis Daily.

The University of Missouri – St. Louis (USML) Community Innovation and Action Center will store the data exchange. The university also runs the St. Louis Regional Data Alliance.

“This has been a long time in the making,” Paul Sorenson, director of the St. Louis Regional Data Alliance and interim co-director of the Community Innovation and Action Center, said to the UMSL Daily. “We’re excited to get it off the ground.”

With the database up and running, users have access to demographic data, real estate and land records, information about health and social services, tax information, boundary data, environmental information, COVID-19 data, and more.

The portal gathers the data sets from St. Louis, St. Charles, and Jefferson Counties in Missouri, along with St. Clair and Madison counties in Illinois. It also includes public data from the Metropolitan Saint Louis Transit Agency and East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

“This is a rare collaborative effort across different local governments,” Sorenson continued. “Although the exchange features data that they already share, now it’s easy to find in one place, and we’ve had great buy-in and participation from the institutions we featured on the site. They will continue to publish their own websites, but they’re happy to have their data all in one place.”

Several years ago, leaders at East-West Gateway and Saint Louis University attempted to develop a regional data exchange, called OneSTL. However, creating the data exchange did not go as planned.

“The time wasn’t right, so it didn’t quite get off the ground,” Sorenson said. “When we started the RDA two years ago and decided we wanted to create a portal, we worked very closely with the designers of the original St. Louis Regional Data Exchange to learn what happened and continue to build on it.”

Sorenson said the coalition plans to add additional data from local governments, universities, and nonprofit organizations into the portal.

The group intends to unite the St. Louis Data Commons and the St. Louis Regional Data Exchange, which would allow researchers and government leaders to access increased amounts of data and learn more about local COVID-19 data, social determinants of health, and racial equity. Sorenson said this could launch in the fall.

“It can set the stage for important conversations about what to do next,” Sorenson said. “The data portal is a big bag of data; it used to be scattered all over the floor, and you couldn’t find anything and that wasn’t great.

“Now it’s in one place, organized. But what we want to do next is connect the dots in a more meaningful way. We’re really working now on creating those regional data assets that connect property data across different counties or COVID data from different healthcare systems.”

“The Regional Data Exchange gives us a fantastic foundation to continue to build upon.”

The spread of COVID-19 has spurred the need for increased regional data.

Regenstrief Institute in Indiana and its partners developed a COVID-19 tracking and response EHR data dashboard to provide the state with a more in-depth view of the pandemic within its border.

The dashboard gathers existing patient data throughout Indiana to enhance patient care. Using this data, Indiana’s government is able to learn more about the potential hot spots and surges across the Hoosier state.

With the majority of Indiana’s health systems and laboratories connected, it allows state officials to make predictions about the spread of the coronavirus and identify patterns.