In seeking out a new Zooniverse project to focus the efforts of this grant we initially looked for something astronomical in nature. It was hard though to find anything with a astronomical science case, or research goal, that was uniquely connected to the developing world, and to science that would have the most impact there too. Astronomy is, by its nature, quite global.
We were fortunate to find a perfect collaborator in Andrew Bastawrous, an Eye Surgeon based in Kenya, working on a project called PEEK (Portable Eye Examination Kit). His goal is to improve the lives of thousands of people in Kenya and neighbouring countries, by turning an Android phone into a highquality eye examination centre for taking retinal images of people with easily curable eye conditions, who currently live with impaired sight or blindness,. PEEK has been gathering funding and momentum, but they find a bottleneck that is hard to get around: it is far easier to find volunteer field workers able to deliver eye examinations with PEEK, than to find qualified ophthalmologists able to diagnose and inspect the high volume of retina images PEEK creates. Essentially: gathering the data is cheaper, but analysing it is not. This is an imbalance that Zooniverse is ideally placed to help with, by asking volunteers to inspect retinal images instead, and reducing the need for professional time and intervention in the process.
We worked with PEEK, and colleagues at Moorfields Eye Hospital, to created a demonstration website for a retinal imaging project, which can be seen at http://demo.zooniverse.org/retina/