Infectious Spread Simulation in University Environment (ISSUE) Case Study

Overview: 

The COVID-19 pandemic bought forth many changes in how we live our day-to-day lives; one of them being the inability to attend in person lectures at educational institutions due to the high risk of infectious spreading. The Infectious Spread Simulation in University Environment (ISSUE) is an interactive online analytical tool designed to model the spread of COVID-19 at the University of Calgary and is sponsored by the Biometric Technologies Laboratory at the University of Calgary. The tool will support decision makers, such as school administration, by simulating infection spread and risk for a variety of seating arrangements within lecture spaces on campus. The simulation will show a simple layout of the desired room with an overlap of a heat map. Using this visualization, users will be able to adjust parameters and the location of each agent in order to create an optimal environment for their specified room to effectively contain the virus in real life.

The goals of this tool are to: 

  • Support decision makers, such as the school administration, professors, or those holding indoor events,
  • Allow users to visualize the seating arrangements within a variety of rooms at the school, and
  • Create the best environment to contain the virus while allowing students to be productive on campus.

Outcomes: 

The result of the simulation shows a simple layout of the desired room with an overlay of a heat map. Different colors of this heat map will indicate an approximate probability for attack rates for anyone in that particular area, depending on the distance between infected and non-infected agents and the parameters chosen by the user. The attack rates are calculated by a COVID-19 statistical model based on the research in the published paper “Risk of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Transmission in Train Passengers: an Epidemiological and Modeling Study". This tool reminds users of current guidelines set from the Alberta Health Services (AHS) and World Health Organization (WHO) when building their simulations. Using this visualization, users will be able to adjust parameters and the location of each agent to create an optimal environment for their specified room to effectively contain the virus in real life.

 

Next Steps: 

The final implementation of ISSUE is a desktop application where users are presented with a simple graphical user interface where the user can attempt to simulate various seating arrangements for lecture spaces in times of pandemics and epidemics. The tool computes the infectious spread by using a model which takes spatial attributes, temporal attributes and the use of protective equipment into consideration. The final output includes a user-friendly heat map which gives a visual representation of the risk of infection for the particular seating arrangement chosen by the user as well as temporal charts showcasing how the infection risk increases due to time. ISSUE will support decision makers such as the school administration and professors or those holding indoor events as it helps users visualize the spread of COVID-19 in a closed environment and will help users create the best environment to contain the virus while allowing students to be productive on campus.