Malaysia launches dengue alerts app

Minister wants greater citizen involvement in fight against disease.

Malaysia launched an app to alert residents about dengue cases in their neighbourhood, as more people are getting infected everyday. The iDengue app uses the smartphone’s GPS to push notifications if there is a dengue outbreak in the user’s vicinity. Users can see where dengue cases have been reported around them and “hotspots” where an outbreak has continued for 30 days or longer. It also shows daily reports of the number of cases aggregated across states and the whole country. There has been a rise in dengue cases across the region this year due to warmer weather conditions. Malaysia has recorded 26,975 cases so far, according to the iDengue app. 54 people have died. The government hopes that access to this data will “increase the direct involvement of the community in assisting the government to combat dengue”, said Datuk Seri Panglima Madius Tangau, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, launching the app today. The alerts could urge citizens to take greater precautions in their homes to stop the spread of the disease. Students have also built a new service using data from the app’s sister portal, which was launched in 2013. The Contageo app combines the government’s data with citizens’ reports on breeding grounds, mosquito bites and repellent fogging to predict dengue hotspots as they arise. Malaysia has also been rolling out a “dengue epidemic management system” since 2011 to help local officials design better strategies. The system uses satellite images to detect areas breeding grounds like construction sites and illegal dumps that cannot be detected during field inspections. The iDengue app is available for Apple and Andriod phones.