Subtle signs in human behaviour key to impending pandemic

May 13th, 2009 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, May 13 (IANS) A new approach could warn of impending pandemic, much before it surfaces among swathes of population, just by detecting subtle signs in human behaviour.
“The goal is a public information and awareness system for pandemic with the same level of credibility, timeliness and visibility as storm-warning icons presented on television screens,” said Barrett Caldwell, Purdue University associate professor of industrial engineering.

The system works by monitoring “event phases” of human behaviour, like people purchasing flu-related medications or “foraging” on the net for information bearing on flu.

Understanding these phases might be a way to overcome a fundamental hurdle in controlling pandemic: Conventional approaches require public-health officials to know when certain events leading to pandemic begin, Caldwell said.

“The problem with this requirement is that by the time you know an event has happened, it’s often too late to do much about it,” he said.

Caldwell and former Purdue industrial engineering doctoral student Sandra K. Garrett have proposed a new approach to warn the public of an impending pandemic, said a Purdue release.

“If you can recognise the triggers, the signals suggesting an event is likely to occur, you can start responding to it, gathering resources, preparing and mobilising people,” said Garrett, an assistant professor of industrial engineering at Clemson University.

These findings will be presented on June 2 at the Industrial Engineering Research Conference in Miami.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sci-Tech |