2.7 Japan: Case 6 ‒ Telemetry for Wild Birds and Future Technical Expectations to Prevent Avian Influenza
0The ITUD Study Group 2 Question 14 Rapporteur’s Meeting for Telemedicine, hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, was held at the Kokusai Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo on July 3–4, 2008. This meeting featured active discussions on the Statement of Appeal on an Integrated Information and Communications Network for Avian Influenza (commonly known as the Statement of Appeal on Avian Influenza), which was finally adopted after incorporating a wide range of suggestions and after repeated revisions and input, at the ITUD Study Group 2 meeting in September of 2008.
The following actions relate to the application of telecommunication technologies to prevent and contain avian influenza, and for adoption and implementation of these actions under the Statement of Appeal on Avian Influenza.
Summary of the Statement of Appeal on Avian Influenza (ITU-D Study Group 2 Question 14 Rapporteur’s Meeting, Tokyo, July 2008).
2.7.2 Principle of Information Disclosure
Any governments and individuals involved must disclose information on avian influenza infection immediately upon its discovery.
2.7.3 Tracking Technologies
We ask ITU and associated governments and corporations to seek to develop technologies to track bird migrations, including nano telemetric devices, short- and long-distance RFID, data collection satellite systems, and so forth.
Securing Radio Frequencies
The following tasks will be assigned during the implementation of tracking technologies:
‒ ITU-R: Priority utilization of frequency bands.
‒ ITU-T: Standardization of technologies.
‒ ITU-D: Provision of know-how free of charge to developing countries.
2.7.4 Integrated Information Network
ITU will work with WHO to create the Information and Communications Network for Avian Influenza, disseminating, to various nations, telecommunication technologies to prevent and contain outbreaks.
2.7.5 International Organizations
The relevant international organizations should work together with ITU to integrate various advanced ICT networks to prevent avian influenza outbreaks and to call on individual governments for participation in the network.
2.7.6 Establishment of Human Resource Training Programs
International organizations and governmental aid agencies are encouraged to provide educational materials, knowledge, and invitational programs to train specialists in related fields (telemedicine, especially for avian influenza tracking, information networks, etc.) in developing countries.
2.7.7 About Avian Influenza
Outbreaks of avian influenza caused by widespread transmission between birds, animals, and humans are believed to have inflicted a grave human toll from time to time, starting in ancient times.
The genes of the avian influenza virus are known to mutate rapidly, creating an obstacle to preventive strategies by hindering prompt identification of the respective antibodies for the antigen and vaccine preparation. Some researchers predict avian influenza may result in death rates of 50% in developing countries and 10% even in developed countries – alarmingly high compared to SARS, which recorded a death rate of 4%. The influenza viruses that cause epidemics today were once highly fatal to humans; however, their pathogenicity has decreased over time. Generally, mutations occurring in viruses found in carrier birds (geese, duck, sea swallows, etc.) during bird-to-bird transmission increase pathogenicity, producing new strains of avian influenza. The body temperature of the birds involved is considered to be one of the parameters affecting the process. The consensus view among experts is that it is simply a matter of time until bird-to-human transmission occurs from migratory birds carrying high-pathogenicity viruses. In nature, deaths among wild birds go unnoticed by human observation, and a major cause of such deaths may be the influenza virus.
Despite the importance of epidemiological monitoring in these biomes, no system has been established for real-time monitoring of avian influenza on a global scale. Such efforts would most likely fall under the jurisdiction of WHO, but since they would require the development of new technologies and since the regulation of frequencies and standardization of technologies is primarily the duty of the ITU, cooperation between the two organizations is crucial.
2.7.8 Present Satellite Technology
ARGOS system (DCS)
Theme: The maximum weight of instruments that can be carried by wild birds is 4% of their body weight. This places significant constraints on antenna size and transmitter power source. The basic technologies used in the first-generation ARGOS system date from the 1960s and were designed for data collection from ocean buoys. Despite efforts to improve transmission rates to broadband levels for 3rd-generation transponders, the G/T (gain/temperature, -18dB/K) of receiving antennas remains inadequate. The ARGOS terminal’s lifetime will be only a few months due to battery consumption. Therefore, the ARGOS terminal on the back carry harness shall be glued on the feathers. The heavy weight of the payload can cause birds to crash.
2.7.9 Expected Technology
Long distance RFID (built-in battery type)
The operational life of a built-in battery type RFID is directly proportional to the size of the battery (including solar cells). The device will be larger and heavier than a battery less counterpart. Long-distance RFID systems on 2.4GHz find their ideal application with medium to large migratory birds that do not collect near specific feeding areas. The only method currently available for collecting ID data is to deploy an observer equipped with a ground unit. In theory, it should be possible to perform unmanned observations by installing a unit that scans the sky, like a radar unit, at lighthouses and breakwaters along migratory routes. However, such systems remain in the planning stages, and numerous technical issues remain to be resolved.
These systems operate on frequencies within the ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) bands. One possible choice given the propagation distance required (300–500 m) is the microwave range. The high efficiency required for the power source could be achieved via an electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC), which physically adsorbs ions within the battery electrolyte to the surface of the activated carbon electrodes in the charge cycle, then desorbs them in the discharge cycle. Unlike other capacitors, the EDLC electrical accumulation device is not based on chemical reactions. Given the extreme light weight of EDLCs, combined use with micro solar cell units may lead to long-distance RFIDs with semi-permanent operating lives. In any event, actual implementation of long-distance RFID must await further progress in R&D in the related technologies.
LEO with advanced DCS
We would like to propose the next generation digital transponder that is an advanced DCS with multibeam on S-band to perform the on-board processing (DCS and navigation system with Doppler shift). In the case of 38dBi antenna of the spacecraft, the ground terminal with 10dBm RF-output and –10dBi antenna can transmit up to 400 bps with BPSK. This terminal attached to the leg of a bird will be suitable for a dove or a gull in size. Comparison of the ARGOS system and proposed system, 2000 times of processing speeds are necessary at the baseband level of space craft.
However, advances in the processing speed of FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) that can be mounted should make the required processing possible. The near-future theme for study is the development of a mounted device that can calculate the Doppler shift by the least-squares method by base-band processing per beam area. Should unused payload space remain in low-orbiting satellites scheduled for launch, we encourage space development agencies to consider including advanced DCS (next-generation digital transponders).
Geographical Information System (GIS)
It should be possible to visually grasp the approach of suspected carriers by compiling a species-by-species distribution map of migratory birds. For example, in the month of March, few migratory birds fly along the parallel from the Korean peninsula across the Sea of Japan, but two groups of yellowlegs that consistently migrate from Vietnam to Siberia have been confirmed: 1) a group passing through the Korean peninsula; 2) a group passing through the Japanese archipelago. If the DNA types of the virus collected from the dead bodies of affected wild birds (Whooper swan) in Korea and Japan are found to be identical, the avifauna would suggest the possibility that yellowlegs are carriers. Based on independent component analysis, n number of data sources can be estimated from n number of independent observation sites based on higher-order statistics. Comprised of the geographical distribution of migratory birds, virus identification and virus geographical distribution, and the geographical distribution of patients, the GIS should serve as an effective support system for epidemiological risk forecasting. We should be able to achieve the highest cost-benefit performance in preventive effects for the available medical budget by concentrating efforts on distributing antiseptics, vaccines, and medication to regions where suspect migratory birds are known to have arrived.