Fighting communicable diseases
Problem being addressed
Improved mobility not only contributes to more intensive human activities but also facilitates the spread of communicable disease, thus constituting a major threat to billions of urban commuters.
A model that captures the distributions of the number of contacts as well as the contact duration among individual travelers and creates individual-level contact networks, based on which the spread of disease is modeled and studied. This model explains how the structural properties of the metro contact network are associated with the risk level of communicable diseases.
Advantages of this solution
The results highlight the vulnerability of urban mass transit systems during disease outbreaks and suggest important planning and operation strategies for mitigating the risk of communicable diseases.
Solution originally applied in these industries
Possible New Application of the Work
The study highlights an important pattern that poses a challenge for the city infrastructure development. If commuters with long travel time overlap with the low-income population, then these people are likely to be more prone to infection during disease outbreaks. Compared to other population groups, low-income people usually have fewer options (such as time off and sick leaves) and may pay less attention to personal health and hygiene due to limited disposable income. Consequently, the riskiest group of travelers in metro systems are likely to be the most susceptible and vulnerable group of people during the disease outbreak. And this may inevitably raise additional challenges associated with disease contagion and equity of travel in urban transportation networks.
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