recommended reading

We've Been Looking at the Spread of Global Pandemics All Wrong

tavi/Shutterstock.com

Five hundred years ago, the spread of disease was largely constrained by the main mode of transportation of the time: people traveling on foot. An outbreak in one town would slowly ripple outward with a pattern similar to what occurs when a rock drops onto a surface of still water. The Black Death moved across 14th century Europe in much this way, like concentric waves unfurling across the continent.

Today, disease migrates across populations and geography with a curiously different pattern. In 2003, SARS first appeared in China, then spread to Hong Kong, then turned up from there in Europe, Canada and the United States. Plot the spread of the disease on a map of the world, and its movement looks downright random.

What has changed dramatically in the intervening centuries is not necessarily the diseases themselves, but human mobility networks. Dirk Brockmann, a theoretical physicist and professor of complex systems at Northwestern University, has long been interested in how evolving modes of long-distance transportation have changed many things: disease dynamics, the spread of information, the transport of species from one ecosystem to others where they don’t belong.

For about a decade, Brockmann and other researchers have been incorporating real datasets on the world air-transport network into models of disease dynamics. They can simulate an outbreak in one location and estimate its arrival in another. But early on, Brockmann noticed that models created by him and other colleagues often produced strikingly similar results, even with simulations built on different assumptions about infection rates, disease dynamics, seasonality, or the age structure of infected populations.

Read more at The Atlantic Cities.

(Image via tavi/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Accidentally leaked credentials / Misplaced data

Hospital Breach Affects Thousands of Patients

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.