App could help track diseases before they spread (Wired UK)


Collated data could help researchers map high-risk areas and stop the spread of infection

ESA


A new online database and smartphone app could help to combat
diseases spread by insects and other pests before they cause an
epidemic. The system, known a Vecmap, combines
satellite data with field research to provide in-depth information
on the spread of diseases.

By combining a smartphone app
with a large and powerful centralised database it aims to
track diseases and the bugs that spread them better than ever
before. 
Currently individual
public
 health authorities use a variety of
systems, making widespread analysis difficult. 

Vecmap is the work of a 
consortium led by Belgium-based health data
analysis firm Avia-GIS with support from the 
European Space
Agency
. 

A smartphone app is used to collect time and
location data from fieldwork with a database using huge amounts of
information to provide researchers with new insights. The system
could helps researchers pick the best sites to conduct further
tests on, saving time and money.

As well as information collected during
fieldwork Vecmap also includes data on vegetation type, land
temperature and soil moisture to help researchers find likely
habitats for disease-spreading pests. Traps can then be laid to
catch and analyse new samples. 

Vecmap can also use this data to help map
high-risk areas and track diseases and the bugs that spread them
with greater ease.

In 2012 an early version of Vecmap was used to
track a disease-spreading mosquito in Belgium. The technology
helped to predict where the mosquitos would move to next and data
was used to locate and eradicate them before diseases could
spread.

Vecmap has now been tested in eleven other
European countries and has been approved for wider use. Its
creators hope it will now be picked up by governments and health
organisations to help better track diseases.

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2 December 2014 | 3:42 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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