The INDEPTH Executive Director in black suit, middle, during the launch of iSHARE at I2IT in Pune, India in 2009. In the group were: From left - Neeraj Kashyap (1st), Dr. Sanjay Juvekar (2nd), Somnath Sambhudas (3rd) and Prof. S Suresh (4th); From right: Prof. Tathagata Bhattacharjee (1st), Dr Suparat Phuanukoonnon (3rd) and Dr. Siddhi Hirve (4th).


Prof. Osman Sankoh, the Executive Director of INDEPTH Network, believes that sharing data makes it possible for original results to be reproduced and new analyses to be carried out. However, Osman equally believes  that making data freely available must be matched with efforts to increase the analytical capacity of those who produce it so that they can use the data to generate new knowledge, insights and solutions to challenges they identify.

Dr. Sanjay Juvekar, the current leader of Vadu HDSS in India, believes in “what we take from public must be returned back to the public in at least some way, for betterment of their lives through better health informatics”. This led him to propose to INDEPTH the development of a prototype platform for easy and responsible data sharing in collaboration with three Asian HDSS centres. He had the support of Dr. Siddhi Hirve, the former leader of Vadu HDSS.

With funding from Sida in 2007, INDEPTH granted seed funding to Vadu HDSS for the project: "Developing a Prototype for Data Sharing, Building Capacity Across Vadu HDSS-India, Kanchanaburi HDSS-Thailand & Wosera HDSS-Papua New Guinea", with Dr. Juvekar as the Principal Investigator.

The project leaders from the other centres were Dr. Urawain from Kanchanaburi HDSS in Thailand and Dr. Sureeporn Punpuing from Wosera HDSS in Papua New Guinea.

Technical support was provided by ISquareIT, a well-known Information Technology institute from Pune, India. Staff members, Prof. Tathagata Bhattacharjee and Prof. S. S. Suresh and a student, Mr. Neeraj Kashyap, worked on the project. 

The prototype was successfully launched on 27 December, 2007 in Pune in the presence of Dr Vijay Bhatkar, the father of supercomputers in India.

The project was demonstrated at the 8th INDEPTH AGM and Scientific Meeting held in Tanzania in September, 2008.

With funding from the Hewlett Foundation in 2009, three African HDSS centres were recruited into the data sharing on the web project. Agincourt HDSS (South Africa), Magu HDSS (Tanzania) and Dikgale HDSS (South Africa).

Technical support continued to be provided by ISquareIT. Mr. Somnath Sambhudas provided inputs for the HDSS data structures and report requirements. A team of six students from ISquareIT worked on the backend processes, cleaning and restructuring the data for all six centres. This framework provided new features and a flexible platform for data sharing. A new name was given to this project, the INDEPTH Network Sharing and Accessing Repository (iSHARE).

Subsequently Chililab HDSS in Vietnam, Abhoynagar HDSS in Bangladesh and Nairobi Urban HDSS in Kenya were supported by INDEPTH with Hewlett funds to join iSHARE.

The INDEPTH Secretariat took advantage of other core support and overheads from projects funded by NIA/WHO, Rockefeller Foundation, IDRC, Gates Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Wellcome Trust to strengthen the Network's data sharing initiatives.

The learning experience from these pioneering efforts formed the basis of the successful application in 2012 to the Wellcome Trust for a Strategic Award over a 5-year period that has resulted in this INDEPTH Network Data Repository with the project appropriately labelled as iSHARE2 (pronounced I-SHARE-TOO)