Science So, Where Would Be The Most Dangerous Places To Be When An Epidemic Breaks Out?

Published on July 24th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson


So, Where Would Be The Most Dangerous Places To Be When An Epidemic Breaks Out? [Video]

So, Where Would Be The Most Dangerous Places To Be When An Epidemic Breaks Out?

We’ve all seen the disaster movies where mankind is decimated because of a pandemic that very quickly overwhelms mankind and are graphically depicts by images of the spread of the pandemic from city centers; but how realistic are those “predictions”?

Well according to the researchers at MIT not much because they depend on an older method of outbreak predication and set about to come up with a much more accurate methodology which is intended to be able to simulate the spread of an infectious disease within its first ten-day period.

Pass prediction models depended on examining the final stages of the contagion process whereas the MIT team, lead by computer engineer Ruben James, looked at what is referred to as the “early-time behavior” of a spreading epidemic. This new method also takes into consideration things like an airports’s geographic location, the patterns which passengers take while travelling, how flights connect between airports, and the average waiting time between successive flights.

When they ran their simulations a rather strange ranking of dangerous airports to be in if a pandemic is breaking out was highlighted. As expected the “early-time super-spreaders” list was lead by New York’s J.F. Kennedy airport and Los Angeles International but the third place, and the puzzle, was taken by Honolulu Airport.

The researchers explained it this way

Classical measures of centrality, such as total traffic or connectivity, would suggest that Atlanta International airport (ATL) would have the largest spreading ability. This is clearly not the case, as it ranks 8th in terms of spreading power.

The reason is that much of that traffic is of regional nature, within North America, and that many of the connected airports are not, themselves, strong spreaders. The GSC metric allows for a rationalization of the surprising fact that an airport like Honolulu (HNL) ranks third in early-time spreading, very close to JFK and LAX.

Despite having a relatively low connectivity and total traffic, HNL combines three important features that catalyze contagion spreading: (1) it is dominated by long-range travel; (2) it is well connected to other massive hubs, which are themselves powerful spreaders; and (3) it is geographically located such that East-West travel is balanced, thereby maximizing TSD growth [TSD stands for “total square displacement” and is used by epidemiologists to measure the physical spread of disease].

via io9

Here is a video showing how their predictive model would work if a pandemic was to happen.



Tags: , , , , ,

About the Author

Steven has been around the tech world long enough to see most of the stuff we think of cool happen before which leads to a certain bit of cynicism that has contributed to him being known as the cranky old fart of the Internet. Besides sharing some of the goodness that he finds with you here at 42x you can also find him curating some digital goodness at Winextra (tech type stuff) and Rotten Gumdrops (for your daily dose of WTF).

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑