Understanding DCVTue, Mar 13, 2007; by David Stodolsky.
Distributed Contagion Vigilance
Contact tracing based upon physical position:
A contagion management system can function using only physical position records, which we can call crypto-crumbs. A Global Positioning System (GPS) can be set to leave "bread crumbs" that show where you have been, since the unit was turned on. Crypto-crumbs are produced by attaching a random number to location information, before sending it to a database. It is impossible to know that two records were transmitted by the same person, from the random crypto-crumb identity information.
When an infectious individual is diagnosed, say someone with the flu, the doctor sends their crypto-crumbs to the database. The database then searches for other crypto-crumbs along that person's path and broadcasts those crypto-crumb's identities to all users. By comparing the identities received with those generated earlier, a person's cellphone can alert them to a risk. This even works if two persons never meet. Let's say someone with the flu went through a hallway and then someone else went through it a minute later. The risk would still be there, because the flu virus can hang in the air. The system can generate an alert in this situation based upon just the time and location data.
Contact tracing based upon interaction:
For the purposes of dealing with communicable agent spread, a simplified model can aid understanding of how automated contagion vigilance would function. While not technically correct, the below provides a global view of the effect in an idealized situation.
If we assume that each person is carrying, at all times, a communication device, such as a cellphone, which also has local communication capability, then we can conceptualize the model as based upon the relative speed of propagation of biological and computer viruses.
Assume a uniformly distributed population of persons susceptible to infection. Once a single individual is infected, the infection propagates with a known rate and probability. Since each person carries a communication device, a computer virus epidemic can be set in motion, based upon a single index case (a person diagnosed with the bio-infection). The propagation rate of the computer virus would exceed the propagation rate of the bio-infection, thereby eventually forming a perimeter within which the bio-infection could be contained. This containment would not be dependent on actually diagnosing persons for the infectious agent, in the first instance.
Last update: Monday, September 17, 2007 at 10:54:35 PM.
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