South Dakota State University scientists are in the process of developing a novel software that can protect people from mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and viral encephalitis.
Assistant professor Yi Liu in SDSU's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and her team of four undergraduate students are collaborating with associate professor Mike Wimberly of SDSU's Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence on the project.
Wimberly knows how to interpret remote sensing data and has developed computational methods to project when conditions are right for populations of the mosquitoes that spread diseases to spike.
But what he and his collaborators in Africa needed was a software product to take his early warning system out of the lab.
"Last year, I received an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act supplement from the National Institutes of Health to support my research using remote sensing to develop early warning systems for West Nile virus and malaria," Wimberly said.
"The supplemental funding is to support accelerated developed of a computer system for downloading, processing, analyzing and visualizing remote sensing data for public health applications.
"My colleague, Dr. Yi Liu, is currently leading a team of computer science students who are developing the system," he stated.
Liu said the project gives her undergraduate students invaluable experience figuring out what is needed and how to develop software to do it.
Wimberly said the application that Liu and her students are building makes it possible to analyze the factors that could add up to a set of conditions ideal for a mosquito-borne illness outbreak. Importantly, it will make it possible to do the analysis without the bandwidth that Wimberly needs to do the analyses in his lab starting from scratch.
The final product is expected to be completed by the end of July.