menu

Tracking The Real-Time Spread Of The Flu

Tracking The Real-Time Spread Of The Flu
technology

An entire high school population was tracked in real-time to learn how infectious disease spreads.

Kyana Gordon
  • 17 december 2010

Cold and flu season is upon us, and with every social interaction there’s a sneaking suspicion that the person sneezing during the morning commute or coughing at the desk beside you could make you ill. In order to understand how influenza spreads in a population, James Holland Jones of Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment and colleague Marcel Salathé conducted an interesting experiment involving an entire high school throughout one day during the height of last January’s swine flu outbreak.

Each student, teacher, and staff member were outfitted with credit-card sized sensors that transmitted and received radio signals every 20 seconds. The device also relayed their live location to a central server continuously throughout the school day, providing researchers with a better understanding of how disease can spread based on which people were close enough to others. The devices recorded 760,000 instances when two people were within 10 feet of each other, approximately the maximum distance that a disease can be transmitted through a cough or sneeze.

After the collection of tracking data, the researchers ran thousands of simulations asking questions like: “What would happen if there were enough of a vaccine to inoculate only a fraction of the school’s population. Would it be better to vaccinate teachers or students?” The researchers discovered that it doesn’t matter who you vaccinate, unless you are certain of how people are interacting with others. Marcel Salathé explains the outcome of the research:

Almost nothing was better than the random strategy unless you measure who interacts with who and for how long in a typical day. That flies in the face of what most people might think – that the super-popular kids with more connections than everyone else are more likely to spread more of the virus. But it doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher or a student or a staff member, or whether you’re popular or not. Everyone’s pretty much the same when it comes to transmission of the flu.

Stanford University News

technology
Trending

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile august 26, 2016

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture august 26, 2016

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Design august 26, 2016

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion august 26, 2016

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Kevin Mckenzie

Digital Retail Experience

Syndicated august 26, 2016

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability august 26, 2016

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising august 26, 2016

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising august 26, 2016

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work august 26, 2016

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Design august 26, 2016

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia august 26, 2016

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising august 26, 2016

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.