Route Fifty Report Highlights Innovative County Responses to Challenges Including Zika

State and local government news aggregator Route Fifty is offering a free report on how county governments are responding to current challenges with innovative solutions. The report, “At the Center of Everything”, covers such topics as population growth, substance abuse, and body cameras. (Montgomery County is featured in the body camera section.)

One section includes how Santa Cruz County in California and Maricopa County in Arizona are managing the Zika virus and mosquito control efforts through the use of geographic information systems (GIS) technology. In Maricopa County, the Aedes aegypti mosquito which can carry the Zika virus is well established. From the report:

 In Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, staying ahead of mosquito populations, and the risk of Zika, can at times require some creativity. …

[I]n terms of area size, the county is one of the largest in the country—covering nearly 10,000 square miles.

A total of only 25 inspectors responsible for vector control monitor 750 trap sites across that staggering area every week, and service about 4,000 known breeding sites, along with tackling mosquito-related citizen complaints.

It’s hard to imagine where this operation would be without the use of smart mapping technology.

As it stands now, every one of these 25 inspectors has a laptop equipped with Collector, an app produced by Esri. Every time they visit a trap—which they locate with the help of geotagged information saved in Collector—they record the data from the trap from the field and automatically sync that information with highly detailed interactive maps.

Once the analysis of mosquitos found in traps comes back from the lab, that information too is added to the maps.

Santa Cruz County, on the other hand, has not yet detected Aedes aegypti within its borders but the mosquito has been detected in counties to the north and south.

So for now, the work of the vector control team in Santa Cruz County is all about surveillance. That means laying traps in vulnerable locations, monitoring the mosquitos in those traps and then analyzing the information they collect. Vector control officials use ArcGIS and Esri’s Collector app to record trap locations, measure areas, and upload information—all in real-time—to readily accessible data-rich maps. “The data is the currency,” says Matt Price, a GIS manager for Santa Cruz County. “It’s really just environmental monitoring, but when you add years of data, you can start to predict when mosquitoes will breed, you can send people out in advance.”

Santa Cruz County has not yet made the information they collect on local mosquitos available to the public. According to Price and Kriete, detecting Aedes aegypti mosquitos would likely be the catalyst that would change that.

Useful Links

Download Link for Report

Route Fifty Website

Learn more about the Zika virus, Maryland’s mosquito control efforts, and how your county can leverage GIS technology to assist in vector surveillance and control at the 2016 MACo Summer Conference by attending the session titled: Outbreak! Responding to the Zika Threat.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: