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Wovenware Partners with Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust to Build AI Solution to Identify and Classify Disease-Carrying Mosquitos

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Aug. 08, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Wovenware, a U.S. nearshore provider of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based services and solutions, today announced that it has been selected by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust to develop an AI-based machine learning solution that will automate the identification and classification of Aedes Aegyptis. The purpose is to control the spread of the vector, or mosquito, that can infect people with diseases such as Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya across Puerto Rico, and ultimately nationwide. The other purpose of this labeling is to develop safe and more effective insecticides.

The project, supported by a $50M grant from the federal government's Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is currently underway by the Trust's Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit (PRVCU).  It hopes to gain an understanding of why many mosquitos have become immune to insecticides approved by the FDA. In order to do this, researchers have spread out across the island, capturing different mosquito species in traps; monitoring and testing them for viral presence and insecticide resistance; and labeling and classifying them. To manually capture and classify thousands of mosquitos, across different areas in Puerto Rico is extremely time-intensive and requires specialized human resources.

To automate this time-consuming task, Wovenware is creating an advanced deep learning solution.  Through its private crowd of data specialists, the company will identify and label thousands of images of mosquitos and data sets over the next three-to-six months and will use those images and data to train an algorithm to automatically identify and classify specific species. By eliminating the manual classification process, the AI-based solution is projected to save the PRVCU months of work that can be used to more quickly analyze the findings and identify the root cause of resistance to insecticides, as well as disease spread and prevention routes.

"We support the valuable contributions of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust and its PRVCU, which is working tirelessly to address a serious mosquito problem in post-hurricane Puerto Rico.  This work has serious implications for controlling the spread of mosquito-borne illness across the nation," said Christian Gonzalez, CEO, Wovenware.  "The project also underscores the impact AI-based technology can have when bright minds are augmented by smart technology to help solve some of the world's most pressing challenges."

"The talented research team within the PRVCU is committed to shedding light on the mosquito population and the impact of insecticides in preventing the outbreak of related diseases," said Lucy Crespo, CEO of the Trust for Science, Technology & Research of Puerto Rico. "Thanks to Wovenware's support and deep expertise in AI technologies, we're confident that our thorough field work and research will be bolstered by data-driven insights." 

In 2016, Puerto Rico registered 38,058 confirmed cases of Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya. Aedes aegypti is the vector, or mosquito type, that transmits those diseases. These mosquitos need accumulated water to complete their lifecycle, so Hurricane Maria may have drastically increased their numbers. Since one of the easiest ways to reduce diseases carried by Aedes aegypti is by reducing mosquito breeding sites, their identification and classification is critical.

About the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit:

The Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit (PRVCU) is an initiative of the private non-profit organization the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust. The PRVCU was established to leverage Puerto Rico's capacity to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector for the diseases Zika, Chikungunya, and Dengue in Puerto Rico. Information: www.prvectorcontrol.org.

About Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust:
The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, as described in Public Law 214, is a nonprofit organization created in 2004 to promote the participation and creation of jobs in the island in the global knowledge economy by promoting investment and the financing of research and development of science and technology. By investing in technology research and commercialization, the Trust serves as a catalyst for the creation of jobs and the retention of highly qualified and often bilingual residents of the Island. It is also responsible for the public policy of Puerto Rico science, technology, research and development. For more information: www.prsciencetrust.org.

About Wovenware:

Wovenware delivers customized smart applications that create measurable value for customers. Through its nearshore capabilities, the company has become the partner of choice for organizations needing to re-engineer their systems and processes to increase profitability, realize efficiencies and seize new market opportunities. Wovenware's team of expert software engineers and data scientists understand the unique business needs of customers to leverage complex technologies, such as AI, chatbots and cloud-based solutions, and it works closely with them to develop and manage solutions that align with their business goals. Headquartered in Puerto Rico, Wovenware works with customers across North America and around the world. Visit us on the web at www.wovenware.com, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

For more information, contact:

Linda Pendergast-Savage
Pendergast Consulting
lpendergastsavage@comcast.net
508-224-7905

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