Dengue hotspot prediction tool declared global finalist and “Best Use of Data” in NASA Space Apps Challenge 2019

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Multimedia Reporter

A dengue hotspot prediction tool from Manila won big in NASA Space Apps Challenge, the aeronautical agency’s international hackathon. The initial round was held last October 18-20, 2019 with over 29,000 participants in 71 countries, with De La Salle University (DLSU) as the local host.

Among six global finalists,  Project AEDES was recently awarded “Best Use of Data”, meaning a solution “that best makes data accessible or leverages it to a unique application”. The big data tool utilizes data from climate stations, Google searches, and satellite maps to predict potential dengue hotspot seasons and locations. This way, concerned task force units will be able to properly and efficiently allocate manpower and resources.

Aiming to help address the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 of “good health and well-being”, the project was inspired by the enormous amount of local dengue cases in 2019, which increased by 92% from the previous year. The tool is an exercise in deriving action from the available wealth of data, which the team argues to be the essence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“It’s not enough to just have data. You also need to generate insight from the data, and more importantly, you have to generate action from the insight. You need those three things for anything to work, and companies struggle with this deceptively simple rule,” said Dominic Ligot, the lead for Project AEDES.

“There are companies who have a lot of data, but they don’t know what to do with it… and then on the flip side, you have decision makers who take action without the benefit of insight and data. You add all of that, and you have the social problems that we have today.”

What’s next for Project AEDES?

In order to make the information as accessible to as many people as possible, the team decided not to put Project AEDES commercially. The goal for now is to bring it to national—and local-level government health departments who can then build on the interface, such as adding an alerts system extension. In order to make the business sustainable, they are open to grants and may also entertain partnerships within the private sector.

In the meantime, Project AEDES has some upcoming plans for the platform, such a public-friendly version and a news enhancement to weed out fake news during “information epidemics”. “We’re building this for public health practitioners. They also have a duty to broadcast data to the public and eliminate fake news,” said Ligot.

The team will also be receiving support from Animo Labs, DLSU’s technology business incubator.

“What we offer… [is] essentially a safe and secure environment where they can do their work properly. That includes data privacy and intellectual property privacy, as well as assistance… that will help them do the work in other support areas so they don’t have to worry about legal, IP, audit, registration, et cetera,” said Federico Gonzalez, executive director at Animo Labs. “We find ways to do that for them so they can focus on what’s important for the project.