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BackgroundUse of electronic data collection, management and analysis tools to support outbreak response is limited, especially in low income countries. This can hamper timely decision-making during outbreak response. Identifying available tools and assessing their functions in the context of outbreak response would support appropriate selection and use, and likely more timely data-driven decision-making during outbreaks.MethodsWe conducted a systematic review and a stakeholder survey of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network and other partners to identify and describe the use of, and technical characteristics of, electronic data tools used for outbreak response in low- and middle-income countries. Databases included were MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health, Web of Science and CINAHL with publications related to tools for outbreak response included from January 2010-May 2020. Software tool websites of identified tools were also reviewed. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied and counts, and proportions of data obtained from the review or stakeholder survey were calculated.ResultsWe identified 75 electronic tools including for data collection (33/75), management (13/75) and analysis (49/75) based on data from the review and survey. Twenty-eight tools integrated all three functionalities upon collection of additional information from the tool developer websites. The majority were open source, capable of offline data collection and data visualisation. EpiInfo, KoBoCollect and Open Data Kit had the broadest use, including for health promotion, infection prevention and control, and surveillance data capture. Survey participants highlighted harmonisation of data tools as a key challenge in outbreaks and the need for preparedness through training front-line responders on data tools. In partnership with the Global Health Network, we created an online interactive decision-making tool using data derived from the survey and review.ConclusionsMany electronic tools are available for data -collection, -management and -analysis in outbreak response, but appropriate tool selection depends on knowledge of tools' functionalities and capabilities. The online decision-making tool created to assist selection of the most appropriate tool(s) for outbreak response helps by matching requirements with functionality. Applying the tool together with harmonisation of data formats, and training of front-line responders outside of epidemic periods can support more timely data-driven decision making in outbreaks.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC public health

Publication Date





London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.


Humans, Disease Outbreaks, Electronics, Developing Countries, Epidemics, Surveys and Questionnaires