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Earth observation service for preventive control of insect disease vectors

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VECTRACK (Earth observation service for preventive control of insect disease vectors)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2020-10-31

Aedes albopictus is ranked as the most invasive mosquito species in the world. This and many other mosquito species are very difficult to suppress or control due to their remarkable adaptability to various environments, close contact with humans, and reproductive biology. Although the most dangerous species are native to tropical and subtropical regions, these are successfully adapting to cooler regions of the planet like Europe and North America.
Obtaining high quality field information is notoriously costly and time-consuming. These costs can significantly be reduced through combining cost-efficient sampling strategies, remote sensing and spatial modelling techniques resulting in risk maps. Such maps then serve as a basis for targeted surveillance and for risk assessments. To effectively control these disease-vectors, specialized public and private bodies implement very labour intensive and costly surveillance programs, where field trap inspections represent a major cost.
The objective of VECTRACK is to provide the first transnational and automated surveillance system, a long sought objective of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). This will be achieved with an Earth Observation (EO) Sentinel service chain to ensure continued high quality input to VECMAP (software package to map and model distribution and abundance of vectors of disease), and a ground sensor wireless trap network with new optoelectronic sensors allowing fully remote and automated counting and classification of the target mosquitoes (sex, species, age and infection potential).
The traps equipped with the VECTRACK modules, become smart traps, a novel Internet-of-Things (IoT) application. These are deployed in the field following the same IPM standard procedures used today. The traps form a low-power network capable of wirelessly communicate between each other to finally send the collected data to the Gateway. This gateway, equipped with a meteorological station, transmits the field data to a management software (using GPRS/GSM, Wi-Fi, etc.), hosted by a Cloud Server, which makes the collected processed data available. This offers the disruptive capacity of having mosquito risk maps updated in real time.
VECTRACK will enable Health Protection Agencies to comply with the Guidelines of the ECDC for the surveillance of disease-carrying and nuisance mosquitoes. This system can provide Invasive Mosquito information at regional and national scales, giving authorities a powerful tool to understand at a higher level the impacts and risks imposed by the presence of the pest. EU countries using this system can share their data at a transnational level between themselves and with the ECDC, though European interfaces like the VBORNET network.
WP1- In terms of coordination of the project with the EASME, the coordinator ensured smooth and timely communication with the Project Officer. All milestones were met and all reports were delivered according to contract. Each partner ensured effective use of resources and the coordinator monitored this, assessing deviations and effectiveness of processes. Periodical meetings enabled an effective supervision of progress, risk management, corrective actions and impact on project timings.

WP2- The Customer Development plan of VECTRACK was designed, and is closely associated with dissemination and communication activities in WP2, and the demonstration activities in WP6, with a focus on questioning our business hypothesis. A dissemination and communication plan to support customer development was created (activities, location and timing) focused on maximizing the exploitation and impact of our innovation.

WP3-AVIA-GIS developed all the individual pre-processing components related to the vegetation index and the land surface temperature covariates. The main satellite sources used are Sentinel-2, Sentinel-3 and Proba-V.

WP4-IRTA and INSA implemented and carried out a plan for the collection mosquito species in the wild, for testing with the prototype. Namely eggs and larvae, were collected from March 2020 and transferred to lab for rearing and processing. IRIDEON designed and produced the first batch of the TRL7 optoelectronic sensor prototypes, which were extensively and successfully tested in laboratory with live insects by IRTA and INSA. The unit is capable of counting flawlessly the insects and differentiate these, and sending the information to a cloud server, presenting an accuracy for Genus. Species and Sex >75%.

WP5- IRIDEON worked on the electronics of the final WSN unit. These electronics have the design optimized for mass production at very competitive prices.

WP6- Demonstrations were performed in several countries following the demo and trial plan designed by the partners. Live and virtual demos were performed with potential end-users, where the most important aspects of the VECTRACK technology were demonstrated, and customer feedback was collected.
Problem
- Mosquito surveillance still dependent on traps that require regular manual inspections and reporting.
- IPM professionals are forced to spend considerable walkthrough time in the field, which increases costs >95% and inefficiencies.
- Need for remote monitoring of environment and population as input to spatio-temporal modelling and decision support systems

Existing Alternatives- State-of-the art
- Manufacturers continuously develop cheaper and more efficient traps. However all traps in the market rely on manual inspections and fail to give a cost-effective surveillance.
-Earth observation data sources such as MODIS have been used to monitor the environment but past lifetime and not durable
- Many satellites do not measure temperature, which is a key variable in vector modelling

Solution- expected results until the end of the project
- A service provision of a new set of satellite derived products including day/night time land surface temperature and vegetation indices as part of the commercial activities of VECMAP
- A service of forecasting vector population dynamics and preventive vector control to reduce the nuisance/disease risk within urban areas as part of SmartSenZ
- An IoT smart trap system based on bioacoustics and an ICT standards based hardware platform, which is low-cost and automatic.
-IPM professionals can distribute the smart traps in the field and these will automatically identify the species and count insects and send the information to a cloud server. This will reduce costs and increase reliability.

Unique Value Proposition- the potential impacts
“A sustainable one stop shop for species distribution mapping”
- Guaranteed time-series compatibility with previously used satellite data sources.
- Update of satellite data products.
- Focus on the entomological part and not on the technological part
- Safe and user-friendly tech.
- IPM professionals make faster, cheaper and reliable assessments.
- Automatic collection and transmission of readings, sent wirelessly to a cloud server.
- Mosquito surveillance programmes dissemination and adherence improved by facilitating early detection of problems and enabling timely intervention, with lower costs.
-Protection of populations, preventing disease outbreaks and the loss of lives.
Public Health Vector Control Technician installing the VECTRACK sensor