RAPID: Collaborative Research: Using Data to Understand the Effects of Transportation on the Spread of COVID-19 as a Propagator and a Control Mechanism

Principal Investigator(s):

Raphael Stern, Assistant Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

The spread of COVID-19 has broad implications both for human health and economies around the world. This Smart and Connected Communities project will monitor the spread of COVID-19 by collecting real-time information on active COVID-19 cases, understand how transportation has driven the spread of the virus, and quantify how travel restrictions have limited the spread of the virus. The data collection will gather and store real-time information on the spread of COVID-19 and a timeline of travel restrictions for three sets of communities. This data will then be employed to model how the virus propagates between communities via transportation using various network-dependent epidemic models. Finally, using the collected data and the calibrated epidemic models, analysis will be conducted to understand how effective the different modifications of the transportation network structure, such as travel restrictions in each set of communities, are at slowing the spread of COVID-19, while factoring in the economic effects. Understanding how the transportation network between communities acts as a propagator of the virus, and how control actions taken by local and national governments to limit or block travel within and between regions slow the spread of the virus will provide the framework for the development of mitigation strategies for the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other possible outbreaks in the future. These strategies will limit the loss of human life and reduce the economic impacts of the virus. The methods developed as a result of this work will also be beneficial in the future for battling subsequent outbreaks.

This project will apply network modeling techniques to understand how different control actions on the transportation network influence the spread of the virus between communities. The understanding gained herein will inform decision makers during this and future outbreaks as to which transportation-related mitigation strategies are best to use in different situations and at what point in the outbreak to use them in order to minimize both the spread of virus as well as the economic impact. The research will draw on and contribute to wide-ranging and fundamental results in statistical data analysis, mathematical modeling and analysis of epidemic processes, mathematical programming, network analysis, and control theory. The resulting study of problems will contribute to advancement of mathematical modeling and analysis of infectious diseases, and mitigation optimization algorithms and heuristics.

Project details: