CEF Context Broker helps turn data into action plans to fight COVID-19

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EU governments have taken exceptional measures to protect the public health. When preparing a plan of action against a highly contagious disease like COVID-19, fast and accurate information processing plays a critical role. CEF Context Broker provides the technical capabilities needed to turn widely collected data into real-time patient tracking, contagion maps and predictive analyses. Read more to learn how Italian authorities collaborated with a local service provider to benefit from CEF Context Broker. You can also join our upcoming webinar 'Empower Your City with Data' on 23 April 2020 to see the system for yourself and start on a solution of your own  we are here to help.

Informed decisions with real-time data

To get access to the data needed, when needed, a number of Italian regional governments particularly hard hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are now using a data management tool supported by the European Commission, called the CEF Context Broker. Context Broker is used to feed data into a computerised bio-surveillance system, Eng-DE4Bios built by Engineering Ingegneria Informatica Spa, to help get the virus under control with advanced analytics and real-time monitoring.

This helps front-line workers, such as medical doctors and the COVID-19 Crisis Units to follow up and track the infected population, as well as epidemiologists in studying the prevalence and possible methods of controlling of the virus. Data-driven epidemiological models can be used to better manage and predict the possible evolutionary pathways of epidemics, including those that have grown into global pandemics (COVID-19).

Bio-surveillance in medicine refers to the detection and regular monitoring of pathogens and resistance to pathogens, especially for understanding epidemic evolution. It involves activities, such as collecting, integrating and interpreting data in order to identify early signs of threats and ongoing disease activity affecting the health of humans, animals and plants. 

One system for all

Context Broker consolidates heterogenous data from different data sources and facilitates building databases allowing for advanced data analytics. Thanks to Context Broker, Eng-DE4Bios can then use the organised, easily accessible data to create epidemiological models, predictive contagion maps and real-time geolocation tracking of infected individuals. Context Broker’s open source tools are based on European standards and available for both public and private sector organisations free of charge.


With the data collected and harmonised by Context Broker, Eng-DE4Bios provides crucial information to various stakeholders:

  • Medical doctors:
    • Real-time tracking of the tested population with test results and a quick overview of patients’ geolocation
  • COVID-19 Crisis Unit: real-time view of monitored data according to WHO and HL7 standards:
    • Aggregated data on swab tests with details of each microbiology lab
    • Aggregated data on cases, such as people currently infected, healed, not infected and total population tested
    • Demographic context, including age groups and population under screening
    • Evolutionary pathways of the infected, healed and deceased
    • Possibility to sort data by test result, doctor, healthcare authority, municipality, test date, test report date, etc.
    • Geo-location mapping of positive cases aggregated by territory, navigable down to the identification of each individual case
  • Individual healthcare authorities’ crisis units:
    • The same information as for the COVID-19 Crisis Unit, but only with data relevant to the given authority
  • Local governments and healthcare organisations:
    • Aggregated data on cases, including currently infected, healed, not infected and total population tested
    • Monitoring of infections among healthcare workers in order to evaluate impact on workforce and operations.


Eng-DE4Bios not only provides real-time information on the status of the infected population, but it also enables contact tracing. Contact tracing identifies exposed persons that have come in contact with an infected patient, especially for reaching out to non-tested, high-risk individuals. The system reconstructs a network of infected and potentially infected individuals based on factors, such as place of employment and domicile.

Context Broker for Eng-DE4Bios

Eng-DE4Bios is an implementation of the data management platform, Digital EnablerTM, developed by Engineering Ingegneria Informatica Spa. It is a cloud-native platform made of an ecosystem of standards-based open software components, including the FIWARE Foundation’s Generic Enablers for developing sustainable smart solutions. At the heart of the system is the Context Broker, also developed by FIWARE and supported by the European Commission, which provides an open API to connect to different data sources.

The Digital EnablerTM features a user-friendly interface editor, making it fast and easy to go from mock-up to published app. Eng-DE4Bios then displays the data collected by Context Broker in visual dashboards and allows for queries, notifications and alerts. The solution also provides automatic simulation and calibration of the epidemic, and the possibility to forecast scenarios when parameters change.

Data sources

The data sources that were integrated using Context Broker are:

  • Test results from microbiology labs, integrated with personal data
  • Regional and national health registries to match data with microbiology labs and to gather missing data
  • Population registry to assess exposure by identifying people living together
  • Status of the infected population:
    • Statistics for infected and healed are automatically gathered from test results
    • Statistics for deceased, hospitalised and hospitalised in intensive care are provided through ad-hoc integrations or web applications
  • Administrative flows from hospitals and emergency rooms for the number of intensive care beds
  • Company registry or social security database for data on employers and contact details for positive cases
  • Personal Health Records (PHRs) for real-time clinical data and documents



Stay tuned to learn more 

CEF is organising a webinar on 23 April 2020, featuring a presentation and a demo from Engineering Ingegneria Informatica Spa, providing a unique sneak peek into Eng-DE4Bios and how it was built. You can also consult our website to get started on a solution of your own with our ready-to-use data management tools and support services.

As the global pandemic continues, we hope for Eng-DE4Bios to soon show us a flattened curve. In the meanwhile, stay safe everyone.




Last updated on  May 08, 2020 13:35

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