The problem

World-wide over 3 billion people are at risk of contracting mosquito-borne infectious diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and Zika. These diseases have erupted into a public health crisis rapidly spreading across continents with devastating consequences: the neurological development defects manifesting in newborns infected with Zika are a very recent example of this. Since many mosquito-borne infections lack vaccines or drugs, the most viable method to contain their spread is to prevent their transmission by mosquitoes.

Therefore, it is imperative to accurately and sensitively monitor the complex transmission dynamics involving mosquitoes and humans. The scale of such an effort can be overwhelming, as there are more than 200 million insects for every single person on our planet. Furthermore, there are more than 30 different disease-carrying mosquito species, each with varying geographical distributions, migration trends, and biting patterns. Surveying these vast and diverse populations poses the tremendous challenge of tracking billions of mosquitoes to get a statistically accurate picture of their interaction with humans. Hidden in this data are also threats of new diseases hiding under the radar of our current limited knowledge.

CREDIT: Video by Kurt Hickman; Music by Leanne Kelly.

Enter Abuzz

We propose a solution using regular mobile phones worldwide, for crowdsourcing the acoustic surveillance of mosquitoes by the affected public itself. This is a zero-cost solution that leverages the sophisticated audio data handling capabilities of modern mobile phones and the ubiquitous mobile network infrastructure to yield mosquito data on a global scale at unprecedented spatio-temporal resolutions.

Map showing people collecting mosquito data