PICTURES

NTU researchers launch new anti-dengue app which relies on community participation

Researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have come up with what might be the answer to Singapore's dengue woes. Called Mo-Buzz, the system is a free mobile application which relies on community participation. The programme taps on historical data in order to track and predict dengue hot spots up to a month in advance.

The app also alerts users whenever they are about to enter an affected area and customised messages will be sent to those at risk, advising them on what to do to prevent an infection.

As part of the app, residents can also snap and upload photographs of possible mosquito breeding grounds which will then be brought to the attention of relevant authorities plugged.

The app has yet to be implemented on a national scale in Singapore and NTU is in preliminary discussion with the relevant Government authorities. This development comes amid one of the worst dengue fever outbreaks in Singapore's history, with more than 9,000 reported cases so far.

Research for the system, which began in 2010 with a study of Singapore, India and Vietnam, will be completed this year at the cost of $150,000. The World Health Organization(WHO) has endorsed the project, and invited the researchers to test the system in three weeks in Sri Lanka, a country particularly hard-hit by dengue.

Associate professor May O Lwin, 47, principal investigator for this project, said the project can alleviate the strain on public hospitals by allowing mosquito bite victims to diagnose their symptoms with a checklist sent through the system.