Multiscale model for pedestrian and infection dynamics during air travel

Sirish Namilae, Pierrot Derjany, Anuj Mubayi, Matthew Scotch, Ashok Srinivasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


In this paper we develop a multiscale model combining social-force-based pedestrian movement with a population level stochastic infection transmission dynamics framework. The model is then applied to study the infection transmission within airplanes and the transmission of the Ebola virus through casual contacts. Drastic limitations on air-travel during epidemics, such as during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, carry considerable economic and human costs. We use the computational model to evaluate the effects of passenger movement within airplanes and air-travel policies on the geospatial spread of infectious diseases. We find that boarding policy by an airline is more critical for infection propagation compared to deplaning policy. Enplaning in two sections resulted in fewer infections than the currently followed strategy with multiple zones. In addition, we found that small commercial airplanes are better than larger ones at reducing the number of new infections in a flight. Aggregated results indicate that passenger movement strategies and airplane size predicted through these network models can have significant impact on an event like the 2014 Ebola epidemic. The methodology developed here is generic and can be readily modified to incorporate the impact from the outbreak of other directly transmitted infectious diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number052320
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 31 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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