Protecting Freshwater Ecosystems and Human Health: the “One Digital Health-empowered” OneAquaHealth project


Smart cities and digital public health are closely related. The increasing urbanization and the development of smart cities are posing new challenges to public health, such as the spread of diseases, the pollution of air and water, and health equity. (One) Digital Health Timely indications are needed to address such challenges, by providing people with access to preventive care, monitoring their health conditions, and providing early interventions by looking at their surrounding environment, such as water streams.

The One Digital Health (ODH) framework supports the comprehensive monitoring and analysis of daily life events of humans and animals [1]. The ODH framework is a comprehensive approach to data collection, management, and analysis [2] related to various factors, including health status, environmental conditions, and social determinants of health. These data can then be used to monitor trends, identify risks, and develop interventions for an overall “augmentation” of health [1]. Accordingly, the ways the ODH framework can (and will) be extended to the OneAquaHealth project aim to improve the sustainability and integrity of freshwater ecosystems in urban environments. In this regard, the novel approach will deal with many factors affecting freshwater ecosystems and their surroundings. Therefore, the ODH framework will be extended to the OneAquaHealth project by using:

  • Surveys and sensors to collect data on human activity and exposure to environmental pollutants. These data can be used to identify people at risk of exposure to contaminants and pollutants and to develop interventions to reduce their exposure [1,2].
  • Environmental sensors to collect data on water quality, biodiversity, and other factors. This data can be used to monitor trends, identify risks, and develop interventions to improve the health of freshwater ecosystems, and human and animal health [1-3].
  • Machine learning and more globally artificial intelligence to analyze data and identify health and ecological indicators, patterns, and trends. It will help to identify early warning signs of problems, and to develop interventions to prevent or mitigate these problems [1-5].
  • Data visualization tools to make data more accessible and understandable to decision-makers and the public. This approach can help to raise awareness of the importance of freshwater ecosystems and to support the development of effective interventions [1,4]

The ODH framework is a flexible and adaptable tool that can be used in a variety of ways to improve the health of humans, animals, and freshwater ecosystems by also trying to promote the development of Green and Responsible computing processes [5] in a real-world configuration with FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) real-world data [4].

In addition to the suggestions above, here are some other ways the ODH framework could be extended to the OneAquaHealth project, such as using social media data to track public awareness of freshwater ecosystem health and enhancing citizen engagement in their use and protection. These inputs can be used to identify areas where more education and outreach are needed [e.g.,].

The OneAquaHealth project is an excellent opportunity to apply the ODH framework; by working all together, we can make a difference in the health of our planet.


[1] Benis A, Haghi M, Deserno TM, Tamburis O. One Digital Health Intervention for Monitoring Human and Animal Welfare in Smart Cities: Viewpoint and Use Case. JMIR Med Inform. 2023 May 19;11:e43871. doi: 10.2196/43871. PMID: 36305540; PMCID: PMC10238965.

[2] Benis A, Tamburis O, Chronaki C, Moen A. One Digital Health: A Unified Framework for Future Health Ecosystems. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Feb 5;23(2):e22189. doi: 10.2196/22189. PMID: 33492240; PMCID: PMC7886486.

[3] Haghi M, Benis A, Deserno TM. Accident & Emergency Informatics and One Digital Health. Yearb Med Inform. 2022 Aug;31(1):40-46. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-1742506. Epub 2022 Jun 2. PMID: 35654425; PMCID: PMC9719754.

[4] Tamburis O, Benis A. One Digital Health for more FAIRness. Methods Inf Med. 2022 Dec;61(S 02):e116-e124. doi: 10.1055/a-1938-0533. Epub 2022 Sep 7. PMID: 36070786; PMCID: PMC9788917.

[5] Benis A, Tamburis O. The Need for Green and Responsible Medical Informatics and Digital Health: Looking Forward with One Digital Health. Yearb Med Inform. 2023 Jul 6. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-1768717. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37414027.