Attribute Assignment to a Synthetic Population in Support of Agent-Based Disease Modeling

RTI Press publication #MR-0019-1009, September 2010

James C. Cajka, Philip C. Cooley, and William D. Wheaton

“Communicable-disease transmission models are useful for the testing of prevention and intervention strategies. Agent-based models (ABMs) represent a new and important class of the many types of disease transmission models in use. Agent-based disease models benefit from their ability to assign disease transmission probabilities based on characteristics shared by individual agents. These shared characteristics allow ABMs to apply transmission probabilities when agents come together in geographic space. Modeling these types of social interactions requires data, and the results of the model largely depend on the quality of these input data. We initially generated a synthetic population for the United States, in support of the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study. Subsequently, we created shared characteristics to use in ABMs. The specific goals for this task were to assign the appropriately aged populations to schools, workplaces, and public transit. Each goal presented its own challenges and problems; therefore, we used different techniques to create each type of shared characteristic. These shared characteristics have allowed disease models to more realistically predict the spread of disease, both spatially and temporally.”

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