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2013 News in Brief



Controlling contagion by restricting mobility

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Warm colors indicate geographical areas where government-mandated routing strategies aimed at minimizing the chance of contagion for the individual lead to a large exposure of the disease for the social group as a whole. Graphic / Christos Nicolaides, Juanes GroupIn an epidemic or a bioterrorist attack, the response of government officials could range from a drastic restriction of mobility to simple suggestions that people remain at home. Deciding to institute any measure would require officials to weigh the costs and benefits of action, but at present there’s little data to guide them. However, a new study by Professor Ruben Juanes, graduate student Christos Nicolaides and research associate Luis Cueto-Felgueroso shows that even moderate measures of mobility restriction would be effective in controlling contagion in densely populated areas with highly interconnected road and transit networks. The researchers called the difference between infection rates in the two scenarios the “price of anarchy,” a concept from game theory that’s frequently used as a metric in studies of transportation networks. Read a news story.