The role of geospatial technologies in disease vector surveillance aided by citizen science

Frederic Bartumeus, Aitana Oltra, John Palmer

What is the role that geospatial technologies can play in disease vector surveillance, especially when framed in participatory processes? We will explore this through Mosquito Alert, a citizen science observatory that aids in the surveillance and control of disease vector mosquitoes in urban areas. Through the Mosquito Alert app, citizens collect and share observations of these mosquitoes and their breeding sites. This data complement other scientific work, to study the distribution of these mosquitoes, while managers use the platform as a source of information to implement actions in the field. From data collection to data sharing, geospatial solutions play a crucial role.

Data collection is possible thanks to an own developed open source and free app that uses several geospatial solutions: geolocation of observations, geolocation of participants (i.e. background tracking for ecological modeling of space exploration) without compromising privacy and geolocated notifications. Thanks to these notifications, the Mosquito Alert team and public managers can contact participants, giving an answer to a specific observation or notifying participants located within a specific location, according to project interests.

In citizen science, data quality and openness is a must. Here, geospatial solutions are also key. In Mosquito Alert, a team of expert entomologists classify citizens’ observations based on the taxonomic analysis of their pictures, through an own developed platform. Experts can decide whether they want to validate observations without any geographic constraint, or, on the contrary, only from a given region, according to their taxonomic knowledge. Once validated, observations are shared with the general public in an online webmap. For this, we have developed a portal with easy tools for geospatial data visualization and manipulation. The portal has a private area with expanded data and functionality, especially designed for managers (surveillance and control of the species). We think that all these spatial tools are essential and offer modern and effective ways to integrate citizens, scientists and actors in the fight against these vectors of diseases.