Software Tools Design Anti-Viral Cities

Is it possible to create a computer program that would allow the user to prevent the spread of a viral disease through proper design of cities and their infrastructure? Science fiction writer J.G. Ballard thought so.

In Super-Cannes: A Novel, published in 2000, he wrote about the idea. At one point the book's narrator is speaking with the corporate director of Eden-Olympia, a planned live/work community in southern France. The director refers to medical research that the narrator's own wife, a doctor, has been performing:

"She's running a new computer model," the director says, "tracing the spread of nasal viruses across Eden-Olympia. She has a hunch that if people moved their chairs a further eighteen inches apart they'd stop the infectious vectors in their tracks."

As it turns out, there has been work done on this idea. A demonstration project called Dynamical Network Design for Controlling Virus Spread shows the dynamics of the spread of the SARS virus in Hong Kong's eighteen districts if available resources are allocated in different ways:

Recently, problems of network management and design have become more and more important in such diverse areas as air traffic flow management and virus-spread control. Several problems of interest can be abstracted to the problems of allocating resources to a network based on its graph topology, so as to optimize its dynamic performance.

As an example, epidemic control can be viewed as reducing the average number of secondary infections produced during an infected individual's infectious period. The spatially inhomogeneous dynamics for epidemic spread in a population network are often represented using a class of models known as multi-group models. Using the multi-group model, the authors have posed and solved the problem of inhomogeneously allocating local resources to minimize spread (i.e., secondary infection population).


(From Dynamical Network Design for Controlling Virus Spread)

Another similar project is under way at Carnegie Mellon. Ph.D. student Sean Green is working on a set of tools to identify the best way to curb the spread of diarrheal illness in more than 192 countries worldwide. Infrastructure for sanitation is essential; but where do you get the biggest bang for your buck?

"We want to show where the money can be best spent in these communities where diarrheal illness kills more than two million people a year, and remains the third-leading cause of child mortality," said Green, a fourth year Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon's Engineering and Public Policy Department.

In research supported by the National Science Foundation, the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research and the Heinz Foundation, Green along with Carnegie Mellon professors Mitchell J. Small and Elizabeth A. Casman developed a pattern matching computer tool that uses a set of variables describing information about a country to try to pinpoint which policies are most effective at preventing disease outbreaks.

The Carnegie Mellon researchers report that the most important variable for reducing deadly diarrheal outbreaks among the factors that they considered is improved sanitation in rural areas.

Note: J.G. Ballard died just a couple of weeks ago; he will be missed.

From This Diseased Utopia and Dynamical Network Design for Controlling Virus Spread; see also Carnegie Mellon's Sean Green Uses Combination of Computer Tools And Artificial Intelligence to Predict Diarrheal Illness Globally.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/3/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

Purdue Pharma Ready To Profit From OxyContin Use Or Addiction Recovery
'It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.' - Philip K. Dick, 1977.

Organaut! Russians 3D Print Living Tissue In Space
'For a while your colonists will have to come up [to orbit] to the Hospital...' - Larry Niven, 1968.

MIT Scientists Create 'Peek-a-Boo Prober' From Jetsons
Well, George, it's the latest thing.

Wound Healing With Wearable Nanogenerators
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to ... erase the other internal-external damage.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

North Focals Smart Glasses Provide Augmented Reality In Style
'The world ... is drenched in unfamiliar information all the way to the horizon.'

Tesla Driver Caught Napping Behind The Wheel
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Hayabusa 2 To Begin Asteroid Mining
'We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal.'

Ionocraft Drone Powered By Electrohydrodynamic Thrust
'He saw one hiss by him as he rounded the corner, trailing a short whip antenna...'

Purdue Pharma Ready To Profit From OxyContin Use Or Addiction Recovery
'It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.'

BloxVox Mutes Cellphone Convos
It's the polite thing to do, and has been the polite thing to do for about four generations.

Superfast Replicator: Volumetric Additive Manufacturing
I can't wait. Bring it on.

DNA May Contain Malware
'You were told to embed the logical pathogen.'

I Can't Resist Worm Robots
'Seen close it was not completely flexible...'

Rplate Digital License Plates Now Legal In Michigan
'Gragg's digital ink license plates ...'

Can Musk Starship Astronauts Use Magnetic Boots?
'Walking awkwardly in the magnetic boots that held him to the black mass of meteoric iron...'

Giant Dolphin Spotted On Jupiter!
'Now at last he could appreciate its real size and complexity...'

Musk's Starship An SF Fan's Dream Come True
Perfect for testing, perfect for fans!

TinyMobileRobots Are Sewer Sentinels
Every movie monster gets its start someplace.

Fishy Facial Recognition Now Possible
'Palenkis can identify random line patterns better than any other species in the universe.'

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.