On May 16th, the IDAlert project hosted a public lecture at the University of Heidelberg to mark the launch of the Mosquito Alert app in Germany. The event was held in German and English and sought to present and raise awareness for this tool and citizen science.
The Mosquito Alert app was first made available for download in Spain in 2014. It has since expanded its reach and is now available in over 18 European countries. The team behind this project is committed to study, monitor, and fight the spread of invasive mosquitoes capable of transmitting global diseases such as dengue, Zika, or West Nile fever. The tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito are some of the invasive species that Mosquito Alert watches out for.
In Germany, Mosquito Alert is committed to identifying and monitoring spreading mosquito populations in the region and has now launched a new case study for Heidelberg and the Rhine-Neckar region. Participating citizens can send photos directly from the app to professional entomologists to determine if invasive mosquito populations are spreading in their communities.
By engaging with the public through innovative technologies, citizens are better educated, more involved, and more aware of the issues affecting their well-being.
Public Lecture at the University of Heidelberg
At the public lecture at the University of Heidelberg, an interdisciplinary group of experts talked about the effects and threats of mobility and the environment on mosquitos as disease vectors.
The experts were:
- Prof. Dr. Joacim Rocklöv, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg Institute for Global Health / Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing
- PD Dr. Norbert Becker, University of Heidelberg, Center for Organismal Studies
- Prof. Dr. Carsten Wergin, University of Heidelberg, Faculty of Behavioural and Empirical Cultural Studies
- Prof. Dr. Till Bärnighausen, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg Institute for Global Health
- Prof. Dr. Alexander Zipf, University of Heidelberg, Institute of Geography / Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology
These five experts are pioneering research at the University of Heidelberg and its partner institutions into one of the biggest public health threats in Germany – invasive species of mosquitos.
Just in time for the start of the tiger mosquito breeding season, the group led by Joacim Rocklöv at the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing (IWR) has started a case study that deals with the spread of the tiger mosquito and the associated threat of infectious diseases in the Rhine-Neckar region. By collaborating with the public through the Mosquito Alert app and using AI methods to understand the spread of infectious diseases and to identify possible interventions, the group would like to make the effects of climate and environmental changes on public health visible, develop prediction models as early warning systems and identify possible interventions in the spread of climate-sensitive diseases.
Similarly, the other speakers at the event are working at the frontiers of their respective fields often in direct connection to public health, climate change, and mosquito-borne diseases. PD Dr. Norbert Becker has researched the spread of mosquitoes and, particularly, public intervention methods for preventing and inhibiting the spread of mosquitoes for decades around the world. His research and activities with KABS (Kommunale Aktionsgemeinschaft zur Bekämpfung der Schnakenplage) e.V. and ICYBAC GmbH have helped pioneer community-level interventions in Germany.
Prof. Dr. Carsten Wergin is an anthropologist by training and his research intersects with urbanism, sustainable development, global trade, and heritage preservation. His recent research projects include multi-species ethnographic research and the overlapping nature of mosquito and human mobilities.
Prof. Dr. Alexander Zipf the chair of GIScience (Geoinformatics) at University of Heidelberg Department of Geography and is the scientific lead of the Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology. His research focuses on volunteered geographic information (VGI), geoinformation for humanitarian aid, and the development and implementation of big open geographic data in transdisciplinary settings.
Prof. Dr. Till Bärnighausen is a population health researcher whose work centers on the investigation of causal impacts of global health interventions on health, economic, and social outcomes, the identification and testing of health innovations in public health systems, and the development of novel applied populational health research methodologies.
Pandemics such as COVID and infectious diseases such as dengue pose an increasing threat to communities around the world, driven in part by climate change and international travel and trade. It is more important than ever that we as a society strive to develop proactive practices and capacity to respond to emerging health threats. The IDAlert project is assisting towards just that.