ECCS'12 satellite meeting "Data-driven modeling of contagion processes" took place Sept. 13, 2012

The ECCS’12 Satellite Meeting took place on the 5th of September at the Solbosch campus of ULB in Brussels, Belgium. It hosted four sessions featuring two invited and 15 contributed talks.

Neil Hens, from Hasselt University and University of Antwerp, opened the first morning session, with a fundamental topic in epidemiology: estimation of epidemiological parameters based on the social contact data. Neil is involved in POLYMOD, a European project for the collection of social contact data in several countries: this represents an unprecedented opportunity to provide a quantitative assessment of interactions relevant for disease transmission. The session then featured three contributed talks in the area of computational epidemiology with a specific focus on vaccine preventable childhood infections and their control. The talks opened interesting discussions on demographical changes in human population and their implications for infectious disease dynamics and public health intervention planning.

The second session of the morning hosted four contributed talks on mathematical and computational epidemiology. In particular, the talks were concerned with optimization of vaccine allocation in case of a novel influenza pandemic; impact of thermal fluctuations in dengue persistence; a novel respondent driven sampling method; and risk perception induced by infectious disease spread and its implications for infection dynamics. Some flavors from the talks: The study on optimized vaccine allocation demonstrated that timely distribution of vaccines was crucial in reducing the infections and in determining the best strategy to implement for the allocation of resources.

The afternoon session started with the invited talk of Marcel Salathé, from Penn State University, on the dynamics of health behavior sentiments on Twitter. The particular study analyzed the tweets posted during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic on the novel vaccine against the pandemic strain in order to shed light on the dynamics of health behavior and influences of social network with implications for policy makers. The session then hosted four contributed talks with a specific focus on temporal networks: the challenges in this field are the modeling of network dynamics and its interplay with spreading processes taking place on top of them, and the difficulties encountered in the design of protocol measures in highly variable systems (the case of livestock trade networks was discussed). The session also featured a talk on spatiotemporal diffusion patterns of the 2011 London riots that, besides being of high scientific interest, is also a particularly hot topic at the moment.

The one-day meeting concluded with a twist towards contagion-like processes in financial and social systems. The financial networks were the focus of two talks with particular attention to default contagion and definition of centrality measures. Another talk was on the dynamics of online file sharing and modeling by using classical epidemic models. The session ended with a talk on threshold-based contagion dynamics and effect of burst communication patterns.

The satellite meeting was a success in gathering researchers from a wide range of areas, from epidemiology to economics, in order to share and discuss recent research topics in data-driven modeling of contagion processes. The participants had several occasions to meet and discuss informally during the coffee breaks and lunch that we hope helped to start new collaborations.