Explanation of the project
There is a real need to strengthen the plans and actions for monitoring and controlling disease-carrying mosquito vectors in Spain through well-established proposals for citizen participation. This need is reinforced by the experience gained in monitoring Aedes albopictus and similar species, such as Aedes japonicus, where citizen alerts have been key elements in the early detection of these species in certain regions of Spain (Delacour-Estrella et al. 2014, 2015; Eritja et al. 2018, 2019; Ordóñez Iriarte et al. 2021).
While citizen alert mechanisms (e.g., alert phones, online forms, etc.) are of great interest and have proven their importance (e.g., Millet et al. 2017; Sánchez Pérez et al. 2021; Carrillo et al. 2021), citizen science platforms and/or observatories based on the use of new technologies (Internet and mobile phones) and integrated into the public administration under a context of innovation and open science can offer benefits that are impossible to achieve compared to simpler citizen alert systems. These platforms can be scalable (allowing data collection at wide and continuous temporal and geographical scales), interoperable (with methods that facilitate sharing and reusing data among different actors), oriented towards generating scientific data, useful in modeling contexts, and at the same time, they provide mechanisms to improve the public's understanding of public health issues and promote the implementation of preventive and corrective measures in private spaces (Bartumeus et al. 2018, 2019; Sousa et al. 2020; Bernat et al. 2021).
In this regard, the citizen science platform Mosquito Alert (MA) is a unique and highly interesting instrument, as it can meet all these needs. The project aims to integrate citizen science into the public administration for the estimation and evaluation of arbovirus risk, coordination of management plans, and direct implementation of prevention and control measures.
The project has the following objectives:
- Improve epidemiological surveillance and response systems against these diseases at the local, regional, and national levels.
- Strengthen entomological surveillance of competent vectors to identify their presence in a locality and the environmental factors that favor their presence.
- Enhance coordination and communication mechanisms among the stakeholders.
- Improve risk communication to the population and promote their participation.