Mosquitoes can be deadly. They can spread viruses and diseases such as the Zika virus, malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever.
A new app, ZanzaMapp, maps areas in Italy with high concentrations of mosquitoes. The free app, available on iOS, Android and Windows devices, is creating a national database of mosquitoes in real time though an open platform where any user can report mosquito sightings.
Cesare Bianchi, researcher at Sapienza University of Rome, devised the app for pest control organizations and scientists to respond to areas of Italy that need mosquito disinfestations. The project aims to highlight concentrations of mosquitoes and enable a coordinated, targeted approach to disinfestations.
“I was searching for a place that was as safe as possible from the risk of Zika,” Bianchi told BBC. “I realized there’s little practical information on how to manage the presence of mosquitoes. I therefore decided to capitalize on my experience at the service of a project like ZanzaMapp — useful for the community, and totally non-profit.”
Through the app, users can send photos of mosquitos to positively identify the species. Once the species is determined, the app will provide a breadth of information on the type of mosquito and tips on how to combat them, such as removing stagnant water.
The app generates a heat map overlaid with a geographical map that indicates the average distribution of mosquitoes in the area. With the heat map, concentration areas, or “hot spots,” can more easily be seen. The heat map was created so citizens can visibly see the areas they should reconsider or avoid visiting, as well as for the government to become aware of areas that need to be treated more urgently.
It is unknown if the government has, or will, use the app to take action.