When developing a software solution, context is incredibly important. In our ongoing work with the Atlas of Environmental Health, we are preparing for the development of a treatment system – and what better way to start planning a new tool than to get out there and do it yourself!
Deep in discussion about technology and treatments at Ashfield Flats
Environmental Health Officers from the City of Bayswater hosted us for a morning out at the Ashfield Flats site, where the team developing and supporting the Atlas (Serge, James, Tracey and myself) along with Peter Neville from the Department of Health, took us through the various types of treatments that are undertaken for mosquitoes. This involved investigating a range of different treatments including;
- Dipping for mosquito larvae in standing water, and spot treatments
- Various solid treatments including pellets and briquets, and
- Fogging treatments using liquid chemicals.
Some of the chemicals involved in treatment
We learned about the chemicals that are being used, the methods of application and equipment as well. We saw how simple equipment from your friendly hardware store were put to use, how backpack foggers are operated, and how application techniques over the years have resulted in ingenious and cost-effective methods like floating briquets for tidal areas. We even got to see the amphibious Argo in action which sprays out the pellets across larger areas of mixed land and water.
Serge gets a ride in the Argo
We came along to this session to learn about treatment from those who are on the ground, and by the end of it we were very aware of the different nuances. Watching how the team did their field work gave us a bunch of ideas and plans around workflows and constraints that will shape our new treatment system. Ultimately, a solid grounding on how people do their work means that we can build tools that actually help them, and make their lives easier… which is precisely what we have been engaged to do.
What really struck us was that monitoring and treatment of mosquitoes is one of many areas of work these Environmental Health Officers need to attend to – so streamlining data discovery, collection and reporting is critical to our project success. The learning process for us as developers is a continual one, and trips like this one are a great way to build up that knowledge.
Our first version of the treatment system will focus on spot treatment – while larval monitoring is underway – and this will eventually connect to a chemical stock management system we are currently working on, so that chemicals are automatically used from a managed stockpile. We’ve also looked in the past at aerial treatment systems (i.e. helicopters!) and we’ve still got some way to go to revisit how to deal (in our system) with large treatment areas using these sorts of treatment workflows and stock management methods.
The Atlas continues to be developed as we write this blog, thanks to additional funding from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services; and, we’ll be producing an update to the system for all groups who use it at the end of the mozzie “season” (which isn’t that far away!). We did get to demonstrate some of these new features at a sneak peek we did after the treatments “field trip” at the local City of Bayswater offices, to a number of the Local Governments that are already using the Medical Entomology component of the Atlas, along with the associated Mosquito Monitoring mobile app.