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Frazer-Nash solution for respiratory health recognised at Gravity Challenge

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A team from Frazer-Nash won the inaugural Galaxy Award for the ‘Most Innovative Use of Space Data’ and the ‘Northern Territory (NT) Health Challenge’ at the first Deloitte AWS GRAVITY Challenge event awards on 21 November, in recognition of a solution it delivered to a challenge posed by the Northern Territory Government.

The GRAVITY Challenge, launched on 1 October, is an Australian national technology innovation programme that gave entrepreneurs, and teams from industry and academia, six weeks to leverage space data to design and build solutions to real industrial, social and environmental problems.

Frazer-Nash’s Gravity Challenge was from Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) government, and posed the question: ‘How can satellites improve the health of Territorians in the dry and wet seasons?’

Senior Business Manager, Damien Farrell, outlined the solution delivered by the team, and the benefits it offers:

“The Frazer-Nash team, comprising of Raj Baksi, Henry Atkins, Anthony Kwong and Nigel Doyle, used the dataset provided by the NT government to develop a tool to predict mould growth – mould spores can be a trigger that worsens symptoms for respiratory conditions such as asthma. By forecasting when, and where, mould growth is likely to increase, the government will be helped to manage potential demand on scarce medical facilities during an outbreak.

“The Gravity challenge set to Frazer-Nash ties in well with the goals of our Digital Services stream, in using disparate data sources to solve societal issues. A successful solution could potentially improve the health and welfare of NT indigenous and remote communities, by providing earlier warning of conditions that may be adverse to an individual’s health.”

Describing the team’s work, Dr Anthony Kwong said:

“Asthma can result from exposure to mould formations, and the Northern Territory Department of Health had identified heightened mould growth during the wet season, as well as an increase in medical reports of asthma. 

“In response to our Gravity Challenge, we conceptualised an advance warning assessment methodology for outbreaks of mould growth in the Northern Territory (NT), using open access information. This verified methodology can be applied to forecast the severity of mould growth, allowing mitigation of growth risk to be proactively managed, and potentially reducing the number of life-threatening, mould-related asthma cases.

"We also used satellite data to predict smoke spread from a major fire earlier this year, with good agreement of smoke particle concentration to the actual value measured around Darwin. This is important as during the dry season, asthma cases in the Northern Territory are strongly driven by bushfire smoke."

You can find out more about the Gravity Challenge and watch a video of the teams at work here.