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— Architecture

Droneport will enable drone deliveries of urgent supplies in Rwanda

Foster + Partners has drawn upon its considerable experience designing airports to conceive a Droneport for Rwanda. Gimmicky-sounding name notwithstanding, the ambitious project could save lives if successful. Working alongside École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, and Afrotech, among others, the aim is for delivery drones to fly out from the hub and travel up to 100 km (62 miles) to take medical and other urgent supplies to where they're needed.

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— Health and Wellbeing

Ebola vaccine shown to be 100 percent effective in field trials

Ebola is one of the most frightening viruses of modern times and the recent outbreak in West Africa sparked a worldwide effort to contain it. Though it is far from under control in much of the region, there is a glimmer of hope as the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that in trials, a vaccine called VSV-EBOV has proven to be 100 percent effective in protecting individuals.

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New study shows Peek eye test app works like a pro

Peek, the smartphone eye test app designed to improve eyecare in remote areas, has been found to be as accurate as traditional methods. According to a study published last week, tests with the app carried out between December 2013 and March 2014 produced levels of accuracy that were on a par with paper-based charts and expensive illuminated vision boxes found in clinics.

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— Medical

Smartphone microscope scans blood for parasitic worms in minutes

In Africa, the spread of parasitic worms known as Loa loa is seriously hindering the efforts of health care workers to cure particular rampant diseases. Though there are drugs available to treat both river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, if they are administered to a patient who also happens to also be infected with Loa loa the consequences can be lethal. This is complicated further by the inherent difficulties in screening for the worms, but a newly developed mobile phone microscope needing only a drop of blood to automatically detect the parasite promises to make things a whole lot simpler.

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— Drones

Air Shepherd drones keep a watchful eye over endangered species

For under-resourced park rangers patrolling the porous, poacher-friendly borders of Africa's national parks, conserving the ailing rhino and elephant populations is certainly a tall order. With tusks and horns only yielding more and more cash on black markets all across Asia, poaching numbers are on the rise and the future of local species hangs in the balance. But equipped with drones, big data and high-tech infrared cameras, one organization says it has the capabilities to start stemming the tide. Read More
— Environment

NASA takes climate change study to the air

With the goal of shedding more light on a number of Earth system processes whose effect on our climate is incompletely understood, NASA will this year launch five new airborne field campaigns. These studies will look at long-range air pollution, warming ocean waters, melting Greenland glaciers, greenhouse gas sources, fires in Africa and clouds over the Atlantic, with the captured data to complement satellite- and surface-based observations to help provide a better understanding of the interconnected systems that affect our climate and how it is changing. Read More