Let’s get voting: Google Impact Challenge…

Vote for Kew Gardens and the Department of Engineering Science to win a grant of £500,000 for wearable sensors to track disease-carrying mosquitoes.

A team comprising scientists from Kew Gardens, The Malaria Atlas Project and Engineering Science has been announced as a finalist in the 2014 Google Impact Challenge UK, which will award funding to 10 charitable projects using innovative technology to change the world.

WristbandThe Department of Engineering Science is working in partnership with Kew Gardens, the Malaria Atlas Project at Oxford University and the Eijkman Oxford Clinical Research Unit in Indonesia. Over the next three years Professor Steve Roberts and his group, from the Department of Engineering Science, will work to create a smartphone app and a range of wearable acoustic detectors to detect the sound of mosquitoes. The group will then equip villagers in rural Indonesia with the novel technology.

After receiving hundreds of first stage applications, Google has shortlisted this project and nine other finalists, who will each receive a minimum of £200,000. However, four of the finalists will win a grant of £500,000 - and one of these will be chosen by public voting, which runs until 30 July. Please find a moment to vote for the Kew project here: https://impactchallenge.withgoogle.com/uk2014 and spread the word as much as possible via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook – there will be stiff competition to win the public vote!
The online competition site allows everyone to vote for up to four projects, and the results will be announced on the 31 July.

About the project

Malaria FieldworkThe Department’s work with Kew Gardens will develop an innovative data recording and management toolkit to map disease-bearing mosquitoes, using acoustic sensors - wearable in a wristband or downloadable in a phone app – to detect and identify them to species level via their unique wing-beat. Alongside this crowd-sourced data, we will use remote sensing and satellite imaging of the surrounding vegetation to create a detailed picture of how mosquitoes interact with humans and the landscape.

The lack of precise, and real-time, mapping tools can often render vector control programmes ineffective. This project should help to take mapping to a new level of sophistication and give health agencies the opportunity to modify and refine vector control programmes to prevent the spread of deadly diseases including malaria, dengue fever and many others.

Each mosquito species has its own wing beat with a unique sound. This allows the research team to record the occurrence of different species, as well as daily readings of temperature and humidity. Combined with detailed vegetation maps, this will be able to track disease-bearing mosquitoes with the aim of preventing and managing outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease.

Mosquitoes are responsible for the spread of some of the most deadly and costly diseases, including dengue and malaria. More than half the world’s population live in areas where they are routinely exposed to disease-carrying mosquitoes. Governments, international agencies and charities spend billions of pounds on global efforts to control mosquito populations, protect people and livestock, and treat those infected.

To be effective in controlling the spread of disease, these programmes need reliable data on which species of mosquito occur in a given location, and what attracts them there in the first place. This project aims gets to the heart of understanding these different factors.