The dengue case forecasting system made by Filipino developers was chosen as one of the winners from over 29,000 participants in the 2019 National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s International Space Apps Challenge.
The Aedes Project, one of the two finalists from the Philippines in last year’s competition, uses climate and digital data to pinpoint potential dengue hotspots.
NASA named it one of the six winners in the best use of data—the solution that best makes space data accessible or leverages it to a unique application.
Developers Dominic Vincent D. Ligot, Mark Toledo, Frances Claire Tayco, and Jansen Dumaliang Lopez from CirroLytix created a forecasting model of dengue cases by correlating information from Sentinel-2 Copernicus and Landsat 8 satellites, climate data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, and trends from Google search engines. Potential dengue hotspots will then be shown on a web interface.
Using satellite spectral bands like green, red, and near-infrared, indices like Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index are calculated in identifying areas with green vegetation, while Normalized Difference Water Index identifies areas with water.
Combining these indices reveals potential areas of stagnant water capable of becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes, extracted as coordinates through a free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system QGIS.
“AEDES aims to improve public health response against dengue fever in the Philippines by pinpointing possible hotspots using Earth observations,” explained Dr. Argyro Kavvada of NASA Earth Science and Booz Allen Hamilton.
DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) deputy executive director Engr. Raul C. Sabularse said the winning solution “benefits the community especially countries suffering from malaria and dengue, just like the Philippines.”
“I think it has a global impact. This is the new science to know the potential areas where dengue might occur. It is a good app,” added Sabularse.
The leader of the Space Apps global organizing team, Dr. Paula S. Bontempi, remembers the pitch of the winning team when she led the hackathon in Manila. “They were terrific. Well deserved!” she said.
The win marks the second time the Philippines bagged an award in the global competition.
“I am very happy we landed in the winning circle. This would be a big help particularly in addressing our health-related problems. One of the Sustainable Development Goals is on Good Health and Well Being and the problem they are trying to address is analysis related to dengue,” said Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña.
In the Philippines, Space Apps is a NASA-led initiative organized in collaboration with De La Salle University, Animo Labs, DOST-PCIEERD, PLDT InnoLab, American Corner Manila, US Embassy, software developer Michael Lance M. Domagas. It is globally organized by Booz Allen Hamilton, Mindgrub, and SecondMuse.
The next hackathon is scheduled on Oct. 2-4.
Check out aedesproject.org to know more.