IISER’s physics department used transportation networks and mobility patterns to create the map — the lower the rank, the higher is the hazard level. The researchers said infections can travel out from these cities quickly because of their large and well-connected transport hubs.
Lead researcher at IISER, M S Santhanam said, “Independent of the severity of infections or location of the outbreak, transportation modes serve to spread them far and wide. This is evident in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other infectious diseases earlier.”
The project also used mobility and transport data to assign a risk score to cities if an outbreak occurs in another town or city. Again, lower the rank, higher the risk of infection a region faces. For example, Mumbai is ranked 1 (faces most risk) if Pune reports an outbreak. Satara is ranked 19 and Latur 50. Similarly, if Bengaluru is assigned rank 5 and Hyderabad 8, the former can expect cases to arrive quicker from the region reporting the original outbreak.
Explaining the science behind the map, IISER, Pune, team member Onkar Sadekar said, “The basic idea is fairly simple: mobility of people is responsible for the spread of infection. If mobility patterns of people are known, geographical spread of infection can be mapped out. A hazard rank is assigned using a combination of mathematical models and use of transportation and mobility data.”
Another member of the team, Sachin Jain said, “If an infectious disease breaks out in one city, how long would it take for it to reach other towns or cities? This length of time can be a measure of the hazard that can be assigned to other cities. The longer it takes, the lesser the hazard.”
He said the model can predict hazards from infectious diseases. “The framework can be extended to include multiple locations with outbreaks. We can use it to identify effective ways to selectively block transport to arrest quick spread.”
The other team members were Mansi Budamagunta and G J Srejith. The project has been funded by a special MATRICS grant of the Science and Engineering Research Board.