The objective of the PREDICT (Prevent and Respond to Epidemics and Demonstrate Information and Communication Technologies) feasibility study was to define sustainable new services for animal health surveillance and early warning. The combination of Earth Observation and state-of-the-art Information and Communication Technology enables to improve early reporting and rapid response and contributes to limit the spread of epidemics. The PREDICT services have been defined with the Senegalese Directorate of Veterinarian Services (DSV). PREDICT provides data analysis functionalities and risk mapping services to DSV on top of the Senegalese livestock management system called SIGEL, which is the acronym of ” Système de Gestion de l’Elevage”. SIGEL is mainly a registration system dedicated to collect data on management of livestock, including animal health.
The PREDICT feasibility study has resulted in a concept for the development of a commercial service, named VGTropics. VGTropics is a satellite based service used to improve the reporting on the field, the access and analysis of data and situational modeling, to offer syndromic surveillance capability, helpful for decision making to contain epizootic outbreaks. VGTropics uses GNSS technology to geolocate the infected herds, satellite imagery to model the livestock distribution and satellite communication for reporting field team activities. Additionally, VGTropics produces performance indicators and tools to monitor automatically the performance of the veterinary health system and hence improve its efficiency.
The PREDICT study was coordinated by MEDES, located in France, in partnership with the Belgium company Avia-GIS. A demonstration project of VGTropics involving five African countries is being submitted and is expected to start early 2013. This demonstration phase will be lead by Avia-GIS, with the technical support of MEDES.
The objective of the feasibility study was to assess if the Senegal case is technically and economically ready to enter a demonstration phase. During the technical feasibility phase of the study the user needs and corresponding requirements have been formalized. Based on this definition, the needs for space assets have been confirmed. In a next step, the system architecture was designed. Based on the blueprint of the system, the proof of concept has been assessed through the development of an interface between PREDICT and SIGEL and a first set of data analysis and risk mapping tools. The study has also defined how the final service will be delivered. In addition to the technical feasibility, the economic sustainability of the services has been assessed. The aim of PREDICT was to provide generic components of an animal health surveillance system that can be used in other countries. In conclusion to the feasibility study, the concept of a commercial product, named VGTropics, has been proposed for a demonstration including five African countries.
Users and their needs
The end user for the feasibility study was the DSV, “Direction des Services Vétérinaires”, in charge of the animal health surveillance at national level in Senegal. In addition to DSV in Senegal, the other end users for VGTropics are located in Cape Verde, Zambia, Nigeria, South Soudan.
PREDICT and in the future VGTropics complements the existing registration databases (the heart of national epidemiological surveillance systems) to allow faster detection of outbreaks and an improved coordination between the different stakeholders in charge of responding to disease outbreaks. When national animal health recording systems are not implemented, the necessary data recording tools will also be provided.
Service/ system concept
VGTropics offers three main services
- It strengthens communication channels so as to shorten the time between detection and response through the Data Collection and Analysis system, by providing the functionalities to enter geo-referenced case data and symptom data into a database and basic epidemiological tools.
- It optimizes the planning and logistic implementation of livestock surveys (Livestock Survey Service), enabling to produce livestock distribution maps and integrating these results in a GIS environment.
- It incorporates syndromic surveillance methods to improve animal disease notification by including questionnaires with lists of symptoms, which are easier to report than only relying on laboratory diagnoses.
Space Added Value
VGTropics incorporates three space assets which are critical parts of the proposed tools and services:
- Satellite Navigation is an essential part of the VGTropics Data Collection/Analysis service for the reporting of disease information and the planning of targeted surveillance actions. GPS units or smartphones with GPS functionality are either already in place or will be procured for the VGTropics System.
- Satellite Communication is an essential part of VGTropics Data Collection/Analysis service and contributes to the improvement of communication channels in remote areas. Mobile Crisis Team will use procured terminals to set up the network.
- Satellite Earth Observation is an essential part of VGTropics Livestock Survey and Distribution services. Because livestock husbandry is closely linked to environmental factors, satellite imagery provides area wide variables to serve as a basis for livestock distribution models.
The end users will benefit from an advanced animal health surveillance and early warning system, enabling to improve the efficiency of the animal health surveillance at a national and regional level. The benefits of the system and the gains for animal health will be estimated during the demonstration. However a quantitative evaluation of these gains is not planned in the demonstration. Such an evaluation would require a costly analysis, which is beyond the scope of the demonstration. VGTropics will also enable Avia-GIS and MEDES to market new products or services for animal health surveillance and risk mapping. Few integrated systems for animal surveillance and health early warning, and very few risk mapping services adapted to developing countries exist. One of the objectives of the demonstration project will be to define the conditions for marketing VGTropics to the future customers of the solution.
The system of systems is presented in the next figure: The services offered by VGTropics are marked in orange, the input functionalities using space assets in blue, and outputs in purple. The actors are shown in green. All user groups can have these actors.
The system consists of generic solutions for both case reporting and data analyses. The use of a “Model Driven Approach” offers a flexible solution that fulfils most of the needs for electronic surveillance of diseases. MEDES published Imogene under a GNU-LGPL open source license and the analyses and reporting tools will be integrated into Imogene (http://code.google.com/p/imogene/).
All risk mapping functions, which require earth observation data, will be delivered as services. This allows reducing the cost of infrastructure because the platform can then be shared among multiple end users. The other components of the systems of systems, as for instance the satellite communications, are not generic and will depend on each deployment.
The key issues addressed by VGTropics are technical, organizational and economical. The main technical issue is related to the interface between existing databases and data sets and the VGTropics information system. Another key issue is related to the sustainability of the services, and the capability of the end users to support the running costs. As part of the feasibility study, these issues have been identified and mostly solved in Senegal. Another issue is related to the marketing conditions of the VGTropics solution. The hypothesis taken is to market the solution though the implementation of dedicated projects.
The final review of the PREDICT feasibility study was performed on May 11th 2012. The outline proposal for the VGTropics demonstration was submitted to ESA in May 2012, and approved for the submission of a full proposal planned in November. The start of the demonstration is expected early 2013.
Status Date: 24/07/2012