Home Health Scientists using high precision location data in epidemiology

Scientists using high precision location data in epidemiology

UK: British scientists have developed a software package that can record and playback location data with high-precision. The software then uses SIR modelling (S for susceptible, I for infectious and R for recovered) and the epidemiological technique of contact tracing in order to predict the spread of a disease through a network of people. Current issue of International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management explains this innovative application of ‘geo’ information.

William John Knottenbelt of Imperial College London and his team which includes members from Edinburgh Napier University explained that the precision of location tracking technology has improved greatly over the last few decades. They demonstrated that by tracking the locations of individuals in a closed environment, it is possible to record the nature and frequency of interactions between them. This information could be used to predict the way in which an infection will spread.

From the launch of GPS system in 1978, the accuracy of real-time location tracking has increased to better than 10 metres and beyond.

The team points out that such a system would give emergency health providers a way to prioritise those who may have come into contact with an individual exposed to a serious illness, such as influenza or a currently unknown emergent disease. During an outbreak, information about contact between individuals could be used to produce a list ordered by probability for all people in a given location depending on contact with known cases of infection. Another application might be to trace the origin of an infection in a close environment, such as a hospital.

“As a proof of concept, the combination of the high precision location tracking hardware and the software that we have designed is a success. Our experiments show that, in a test environment at least, the hardware is capable of producing location readings that are sufficiently accurate to monitor the movement of individuals, to the extent that a contact tracing study that provides meaningful results can be performed,” the team concludes.

Source: Science Daily