A new app will help Malaysian officials predict the locations of dengue hotspots using complaints from citizens.

Dengue killed more people in Malaysia last year than it has ever before, and already over 18,400 cases have been reported this year.

The Contageo app lets users report dengue cases, potential breeding grounds, mosquito bites and repellent fogging. It is yet to be officially launched and is backed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

“When we have more users and information, we can use this data to do some prediction,” said Hilman Nordin, a student from the University of Malaysia, and one of its developers.

For instance, “if we can get users to report when they get bitten, it means that there are a lot of mosquitoes in that area. That does not mean that they will get dengue, but the data can be correlated,” he explained.

The developers are now working with the Ministry to get this data directly to health and local government agencies, and until then the reports will be passed on manually. “For now, the data gets reviewed by us and we give it the appropriate authorities,” Nordin said.

Contageo also lets users see where dengue cases have been reported closest to them. “We partly use data from the Ministry of Health website, but at the same time we allow users to report cases they know,” he said.

One of the tricks is using the locations of mosquito repellent fogging. These show that there are dengue cases in the area, sometimes even before the Ministry of Health reports it one to three days later.

The Ministry’s data “is not updated in real-time. But what we can understand is that whenever doctors or local clinics get dengue cases, they will alert the local authority to do fogging”, Nordin said.

The app will be launched in March, and is available in beta for Android users in Malaysia here.