We’ve all seen the movies. We’re in a war room with some general at the screen. There’s one innocuous red dot on a map. The dot becomes a circle. The circle becomes many circles. The many circles amplify exponentially to become one big red map.
The reality of a contagion’s spread, however, is much different than the movies may portray. And researchers at the MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) have been working on more accurate, more complex models of disease spread. They’re particularly interested in the first few days of an epidemic, and the role of the 40 largest airports in the U.S. So they turned to traveler cell-phone data from previous MIT research to model accurate human mobility patterns–the real typical actions of travelers (including pesky layovers and tedious connecting flights)–rather than conjectural patterns.
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