Homeland Security Org: Security from Chaos

March 1, 2008

All Over the Map

A Washington, D.C., think tank says it has pioneered a way to simulate, through advanced computer technology, the spread of an infectious disease on a national scale using both biological and sociological data.

Information about how the disease is transmitted can be combined with statistics from the census on 300 million–plus Americans in more than 31,000 ZIP codes—all into one image. These data—compiled in compliance with relevant privacy laws—include traits such as age, income, and the proximity of people to others. As a result, homeland security and other policymakers could be able to actually see the overall effect that preventive measures, such as school closings and limited quarantines, could have in reducing illnesses or deaths.

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