Crowdsourced Detection of Mosquito Species Using Simple Flip Phones

Organization: Stanford University

Location: Stanford, California, USA

Problem: It is imperative to accurately and sensitively monitor the complex transmission dynamics involving mosquitoes and man. However, the scale of such an effort can be overwhelming, as there are more than 200 million insects for every human being on our planet. Surveying these vast and diverse populations poses the tremendous challenge of tracking billions of mosquitoes, to get a statistically accurate picture of their interaction with humans

Solution: Using a simple flip-phone, this application allows for the detection of mosquito species using acoustic surveillance through global crowdsourcing. Mosquito-generate species-specific sounds (from flapping wing beats) that can be recorded on a cellphone by any individual across the world. The distinct frequencies are processed to build distinct biomarkers for a given species, and together with phone-based metadata enable the species-specific identification of mosquitoes in near real-time. This citizen science endeavor will dramatically amplify our capability to probe vector populations at high spatio-temporal resolutions, thus enabling truly data-driven solutions for the monitoring and control of mosquito-borne infectious diseases.


Headshot of Manu Prakash

Manu Prakash – PhD in Applied Physics, MIT; MS in Applied Physics, MIT

"Many of my ideas come from my travels and from my childhood growing up in India. Being in the field gives meaning to working in global health, it teaches you empathy, a driving force so strong that it transforms ideas into actions. Plus, the things that you make for kids to explore and experience help you determine if the ideas are robust, scalable and versatile."

Headshot of Haripriya Mukundarajan

Haripriya Mukundarajan – PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University [in progress]; MS in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University; MTech, Indian Institute of Technology

"I want to use technology to design solutions for human well-being, and I'm always looking out for new challenges that can be addressed using novel engineering concepts. Mosquito-borne disease is a field that intensely piques my curiosity and interest, as it presents an area less familiar to engineers but with considerable opportunity for creative innovation and technical problem-solving, with the opportunity to directly benefit people's lives."

Felix Hol – Post-Doc, Stanford University [in progress]; PhD, Delft University of Technology; M.Sc., VU University Amsterdam

"Being able to address interesting (fundamental) questions in quantitative biology in the context of global health problems. I enjoy bringing biophysical approaches to questions in population biology, with the aim of benefitting resource-constrained populations. The ecology and evolution of mosquito-borne diseases allows me to do exactly that."

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