Software Application Profile: Opal and Mica: open-source software solutions for epidemiological data management, harmonization and dissemination

Int J Epidemiol. 2017 Oct 1;46(5):1372-1378. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyx180.


Motivation: Improving the dissemination of information on existing epidemiological studies and facilitating the interoperability of study databases are essential to maximizing the use of resources and accelerating improvements in health. To address this, Maelstrom Research proposes Opal and Mica, two inter-operable open-source software packages providing out-of-the-box solutions for epidemiological data management, harmonization and dissemination.

Implementation: Opal and Mica are two standalone but inter-operable web applications written in Java, JavaScript and PHP. They provide web services and modern user interfaces to access them.

General features: Opal allows users to import, manage, annotate and harmonize study data. Mica is used to build searchable web portals disseminating study and variable metadata. When used conjointly, Mica users can securely query and retrieve summary statistics on geographically dispersed Opal servers in real-time. Integration with the DataSHIELD approach allows conducting more complex federated analyses involving statistical models.

Availability: Opal and Mica are open-source and freely available at [] under a General Public License (GPL) version 3, and the metadata models and taxonomies that accompany them are available under a Creative Commons licence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Database Management Systems*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Internet
  • Software*