Citizen power mobilized to fight against mosquito borne diseases

GigaBlog: “Just out in GigaByte is the latest data release from Mosquito Alert, a citizen science system for investigating and managing disease-carrying mosquitoes, and is part of our WHO-sponsored series on vector borne human diseases. Presenting 13,700 new database records in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) repository, all linked to photographs submitted by citizen volunteers and validated by entomological experts to determine if it provides evidence of the presence of any of the mosquito vectors of top concern in Europe. This is the latest of a new special issue of papers presenting biodiversity data for research on human diseases health, incentivising data sharing to fill important particular species and geographic gaps. As big fans of citizen science (and Mosquito Alert), its great to see this new data showcased in the series.

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases in humans. There are large gaps in knowledge related to these vectors, and data mobilization campaigns are required to improve data coverage to help research on vector-borne diseases and human health. As part of these efforts, GigaScience Press has partnered with the GBIF; and has been supported by TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, hosted at the World Health Organization. Through this we launched this “Vectors of human disease” thematic series. Incentivising the sharing of this extremely important data, Article Processing Charges have been waived to assist with the global call for novel data. This effort has already led to the release of newly digitised location data for over 600,000 vector specimens observed across the Americas and Europe.

While paying credit to such a large number of volunteers, creating such a large public collection of validated mosquito images allows this dataset to be used to train machine-learning models for vector detection and classification. Sharing the data in this novel manner meant the authors of these papers had to set up a new credit system to evaluate contributions from multiple and diverse collaborators, which included university researchers, entomologists, and other non-academics such as independent researchers and citizen scientists. In the GigaByte paper these are acknowledged through collaborative authorship for the Mosquito Alert Digital Entomology Network and the Mosquito Alert Community…(More)”.