Software application profile: The Rapid Inquiry Facility 4.0: An open access tool for environmental public health tracking

Frédéric B. Piel*, Brandon Parkes, Peter Hambly, Aina Roca-Barceló, Martin McCallion, Giovanni Leonardi, Heather Strosnider, Fuyuen Yip, Paul Elliott, Anna L. Hansell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The Rapid Inquiry Facility 4.0 (RIF) is a new user-friendly and open-access tool, developed by the UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU), to facilitate environment public health tracking (EPHT) or surveillance (EPHS). The RIF is designed to help public health professionals and academics to rapidly perform exploratory investigations of health and environmental data at the small-area level (e.g. postcode or detailed census areas) in order to identify unusual signals, such as disease clusters and potential environmental hazards, whether localized (e.g. industrial site) or widespread (e.g. air and noise pollution). The RIF allows the use of advanced disease mapping methods, including Bayesian small-area smoothing and complex risk analysis functionalities, while accounting for confounders. The RIF could be particularly useful to monitor spatio-temporal trends in mortality and morbidity associated with cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, or to conduct local or national studies on air pollution, flooding, low-magnetic fields or nuclear power plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)I38-I48
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) is part of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, which is supported by the Medical Research Council (MR/L01341X/1) and Public Health England (PHE). We acknowledge support from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Health Impact of Environmental Hazards (HPRU-2012–10141). Part of this study was supported by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Science (204535/Z/16/Z) awarded to F.B.P. Funding from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) as part of the US Environment and Health Public Tracking Program ( was also received.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.


  • Disease mapping
  • cluster detection
  • epidemiology
  • risk analysis
  • surveillance


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