COVID-19 DataOps With Hitachi Vantara, American Heart Association and BurstIQ

By Hubert Yoshida posted 05-26-2020 21:20


Hitachi Vantara believes access to data is the key to solving many of the world’s problems, including the biggest problem today, the COVID-19 pandemic.



In order to incentivize and facilitate the use of DataOps by the research community to address COVID-19, Hitachi Vantara joined with the American Heart Association and BurstIQ, a leading provider of blockchain-enabled data solutions for the healthcare industry, in the COVID-19 data challenge. The data challenge is specifically focused on testing the relationships between COVID-19 and other health conditions, as well as health disparities and social determinants of health based on factors such as ethnicity, gender, geography or income. Hitachi Vantara will furnish more than $100,000 in prizes over the course of the challenge.



Through this challenge, global clinical and outcome data, as well as image datasets, will be made available to COVID-19 researchers via the American Heart Association’s AWS cloud-based Precision Medicine Platform, which Hitachi Vantara co-developed and launched in 2016 to facilitate cardiovascular research. The American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform creates a single meeting place or marketplace, where research data can be housed and easily accessed. This eliminates the need for many disparate research databases and systems that contain valuable but hard-to-find information. This will reduce the time researchers spend searching various datasets for specific data and prevent researchers from duplicating efforts.


In the era of data-driven-healthcare, data security is key


The rush to address COVID-19 requires hospitals to gather massive amounts of data on patients, which may expose medical records and other personal health information in violation of several laws. To help prevent this, BurstIQ believes the future of healthcare will be driven by data and that blockchain technology is an enabling foundation for a secure data-driven approach.


Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology which provides a trust layer over the internet. This makes it possible to create a tamper-proof digital ledger of transactions which can be shared securely. Blockchain systems use asymmetric cryptography to secure transactions between users. Each user has a public and private key. These keys are random strings of numbers and are cryptographically related. It is mathematically impossible for a user to guess another user's private key from their public key. This makes it possible to transfer sensitive data like health data without violating the privacy of individuals. Data in blockchains also cannot be modified, ensuring the integrity and provenance of transactions which are critical to the validity of research studies.


BurstIQ’s HIPAA-compliant, blockchain-based platform provides an efficient way for health care organizations to both access and contribute diverse and disparate data, both internally and around the world, in a secure, controlled, and low-risk connection.


To implement the components of the American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform, the Data Challenge was designed with several implementation phases and a combination of AWS Cloud Services, Hitachi Vantara cloud services, and several open source integrations to accomplish the mission. First, a secure AWS virtual private cloud environment was created using DevOps Services from Hitachi Vantara and Cloud Application Modernization Services from Hitachi Vantara. Specific accelerators included:


  • The deployment accelerator was used to implement a well-architected, secure, seven-layer virtual private cloud. This cloud includes subnets for public and private internet traffic, internal and external load balancers, web, application and database layers, as well as a management layer. It starts with the Sophos UTM instance, which is used for a virtual private network (VPN), next-gen firewall and network address translation.
  • The deployment and test accelerators were used along with a Jenkins client, Chef Infra Server and Nessus Professional scanning to build out and test the security of the environment.
  • The dashboard accelerator was deployed to monitor the data movement and status at all times.


Second, the data platform was constructed within the secure VPC (Virtual Private Cloud):


·      Jupyter Notebook and was implemented to write code that allows for data transformation and calibrates code to perform the large volumes of transformations and negotiations.

  • AWS Elastic MapReduce (EMR) was used so calculations could be farmed out and executed simultaneously throughout immense datasets to enable discovery of trends.
  • Data science tools were implemented to make the aggregate data available in a consistent format.
  • AWS ElasticSearch Service allows the American Heart Association to collect, visualize and gain insight into datasets.
  • The Hitachi Vantara cloud services team created a highly customized Kibana solution, to provide a powerful and scalable search and discovery tool for the user.
  • The underlying infrastructure was designed and architected to be HIPAA-compliant with controls for additional scalability to adopt Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) controls, downstream.
  • The team facilitated the environment to create a unique and automated pipeline, which enables a customized research and AWS Workspace environment. This solution allows researchers to have their own private cloud environment and custom pipeline. It not only facilitates their work, but also allows data to be supplemented by future researchers, compounding the value to the community.
  • Through the unique cloud-based infrastructure on AWS that Hitachi Vantara cloud services designed and engineered, the Precision Medicine Platform will enable increased collaboration among the research community to amalgamate research, identify trends and provide real-time solutions, based on empirical data.


Each participant of the challenge will be provided a free, HIPPA-compliant and FedRAMP certified, secure Precision Medicine Platform to conduct analyses. Participants may bring their own de-identified data and/or use the existing datasets we have made available on the Precision Medicine Platform. The objective for this challenge is to accelerate the development of research to find a treatment and prevention of this current pandemic and enable us to be better prepared for future pandemics.


In the meantime, we thank our courageous healthcare workers, first responders and EMTs who are risking their lives in the fight against COVID-19.