The Data Blog
The COVID-19 is one of the most dangerous problems we as a society struggle with today, and to make matters worse the disease is highly contagious and spreading rapidly around the world. As there are many people who are unaware of their health situation and don't find it necessary to get tested, and furthermore aren't enough test kits readily available for every single person, it's essential we use our resources and historical data to track the virus so we can begin to stop it in its tracks.
By preparing travel, social, and contact networks, we may effectively be able to track to a certain degree where the virus is, isn't, and may potentially be. A travel network specifies a single, series, or pattern of travel activities by a node [individual] or group of nodes [group of individuals] by any mode to any location. A social network is defined as a network of known social interactions between family, friends, co-workers, and those you are relatively familiar with. Meanwhile, a contact network tracks the time and proximity one node may have to another at any given time, but isn't specifically limited to others known by the individual; contact networks include interactions with a cashier when buying a coffee or perhaps passing someone nearby on local transportation. By combining the three types of networks, we effectively can understand each node's travel, social, and contact patterns and compare them to COVID-19's own pattern of travel, something we can denote as contact tracing.
Using the data collected from the COVID-19 outbreak as well as by those who have been tested for exposure, we have the opportunity to track the precise whereabouts of the pandemic and fight it before the next wave of it or a future pandemic begins. The first of our two key assumptions for this methodology is we have enough readily available data to use for tracking where COVID-19 has been and currently is so we can also predict where it is likely to go. The second key assumption is that we find a way to track those we don't have data on, as the contact network isn't limited to interactions with known nodes, but unknown ones as well. Nevertheless, this is a rare opportunity we have to begin our fight back against COVID-19 and other future pandemics, and we should take any advantage we can to prepare for it.