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Satellite technologies to understand the spread of COVID-19: Unimore participates in the EPICO19 project financed by ESA

Researchers of the Public Healthcare Division of the Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Science (DBMN) of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in consortium with two start-up companies, one from Milan and one from Ravenna, and the collaboration of the Local Health Authority of Reggio Emilia, participate in an European Project, financed by ESA (European Space Agency), aimed at exploiting satellite technologies to fight COVID-19, by implementing these services in Italy to the benefit of local communities and other geographical areas and countries that are facing similar exceptional challenges.

The research project, named “EPICO19” (the EPIdemiological and logistics COvid19 model), intends to study the geographical distribution of the pandemic within a defined territory, its demographic and environmental risk factors, including mobility and environmental pollution, detected through satellite sensors, as well as its developing trends in the medium and long termThe survey area suggested by the proposers and approved by ESA is the province of Reggio Emilia.

It has recently been announced that the project involving Unimore has successfully passed the selection provided for in the call for applications for 10 thousand euros that was launched last spring by ESA and closed on 20 April 2020 with the presentation of about 130 projects by many European entities and institutions ( https://www.esa.int/Applications/Telecommunications_Integrated_Applications/Space_in_response_to_COVID-19_outbreak)l . They intended to prove the benefit of using space resources (like satellite communication, Earth observation, satellite navigation or human space flying techniques) integrated with other innovative technologies to meet the current exceptional circumstances.

Twenty-four are the projects accepted ( https://www.asi.it/2020/10/covid-19-al-via-i-primi-progetti-per-sperimentare-le-tecnologie-spaziali-nel-contrasto-alla-pandemia/ ), and their presenters include some Italian institutions that are extremely active in the fight and research against COVID-19 such as the Paediatric Hospital “Gaslini” of Genova, the  University Hospital “Fondazione Agostino Gemelli” and the National Institute for Infective Diseases “Lazzaro Spallanzani”, both in Rome, and the Hospital “Luigi Sacco” of Milan.

Unimore  has now joined these Entities – Unimore Professor Marco Vinceti is proud to announce - through its DBMN, being responsible for the healthcare component of the project, in the context of a close collaboration with the Local Health Authority of Reggio Emilia, which further consolidates the strong scientific bonds with such institution in several healthcare fields”.

The European call for applications named “ Spazio in risposta all'epidemia di COVID-19 ” (space to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic), launched in collaboration with the Italian Ministry for technological innovation and digitalisation, and with the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the support of the Italian space agency, was an invitation addressed to companies with a high degree of technological innovation to present their ideas for the distribution and demonstration of services designed to meet the emergency needs that Europe, and Italy in particular, is facing as a consequence of the spread of Covid-19. The idea is to promote new projects dedicated to implement and demonstrate pre-operational services that deal with issues of the healthcare or education sectors.

Through its hygienists Marco Vinceti and Dr. Tommaso Filippini of DBMN, Unimore will work in consortium with an innovative start-up company of Milan for the management of environmental data, TerrAria, the project leader being it a small/medium business in accordance with ESA call for applications, and a georeferencing start-up company managing high definition satellite images, Studiomapp of Ravenna.

The Consortium and EPICO19 project are responsible for assessing how satellite resources of the Copernicus system by ESA and its network of Sentinel satellites may help study, contain and forecast the current and future development of the SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 pathology linked to it. Focus will be on the use of satellite images for the study of traffic flows and mobility and personal distancing, extremely high-resolution photography, georeferencing through the European system Galileo, and the analysis of emissions of pollutants from vehicle traffic, and take advantage from an intense research activity against COVID-19, which has developed during these months inside the University, thanks to collaborations with the Division of Physiology of DBMN, Professor Jonathan Mapelli and Professor  Giuseppe Pagnoni, with the Clinic for Infective Diseases of the University Hospital of Modena and in particular with its Director, Professor Cristina Mussini and with Professor Giovanni Guaraldi, with Environmental-Healthcare Engineering of DIEF–“Enzo Ferrari”, Department of Engineering, Professor Grazia Ghermandi and Professor Sergio Teggi, with DISMI-Department of Science and Methods of Engineering, Professor Rita Gamberini and Professor  Marco Mamei, and lastly with foreign institutions including the Boston University School of Public Health (US), Professor Kenneth Rothman, and the Department of Global Health of the Karolinska Institutet of Stockholm (Sweden), Professor Nicola Orsini.

For the realisation of project EPICO19 – Unimore Professor Marco Vinceti adds – we will also strengthen the current close collaboration in the scientific field with the Local Health Authority of Reggio Emilia, which is willing to test the analysis, contrast and forecast <product> of COVID-19 on the Reggio Emilia area, based on ESA satellite data, thanks to the sensitiveness of its General Directors, Dr. Fausto Nicolini, at the beginning, and Dr. Cristina Marchesi later”.

The collaboration of the Local Health Authority of Reggio Emilia to the project includes the close involvement of its Epidemiology Division, headed by Dr. Paolo Giorgi Rossi and extremely active in epidemiologic research for COVID-19, and of the pharmaceutic Division, headed by Dr. Federica Gradellini.

This prestigious financing – the Director of Unimore DBMN, Professor  Michele Zoli remarks - is the acknowledgment of the great quality and innovation of Professor Vinceti’s group and shows how an excellent basic research, the use of state-of-the-art technologies and great solutions for the society may be combined together at the top levels”.

Categorie: International - english

Articolo pubblicato da: Ufficio Stampa Unimore - ufficiostampa@unimore.it il 04/11/2020