390 million people are infected with dengue fever every year. And with a 30-fold increase globally in the last 50 years, the problem isn’t going away. The World Mosquito Programme has a highly effective weapon in the fight against this deadly disease: Wolbachia. Wolbachia is a naturally occurring bacteria that, when introduced into a mosquito population, stops the spread of dengue. However, deciding on a release area for altered mosquitoes is a resource-intensive process that requires specialist GIS skills. Without proper models, researchers run the risk of missing human settlement areas and also releasing mosquitoes into protected areas.


The World Mosquito Programme uses Azure and machine learning to automate a key part of the process. First, they gather high-resolution satellite imagery. Images are then sent through a pipeline built on Microsoft Azure to train models, build footprints and create grids. The grids and maps are processed, and the pipeline outputs a new map with filters and masks included. These new maps allow WMP experts to easily identify areas of human settlement, view building areas and determine spatial relationships. A process that used to take a GIS specialist two to three weeks to complete is performed by the model in just one day. Wolbachia can now be introduced to populations more effectively, and at lower cost.

Read about the Wolbachia method

How World Mosquito Programme uses Azure

  • Azure Virtual Machines to run a deep learning model to detect human settlement areas, building footprints and predicting human population density at a granular scale
  • Azure Disk Storage for storing satellite imagery and geospatial data sets
Man on a moped carrying a large World Mosquito Project package

Collaborating with communities around the world to reduce the threat of mosquito-borne diseases

Woman in a lab examines a container of mosquitoes