Flu Geography

I’ve seen a lot maps showing the spread of avian flu. I have not heard much discussion about how the flu might alter our spatial behavior or impact internet usage.  Likely the first thing will be to keep the kids home from school.  Many more employers will allow remote workers.  Instead of going to the stores, more people will opt for delivery.

All these changes will increase our reliance on the internet.  Internet facilitated home-schooling might reach a critical mass so that after the flu subsides many children may not re-enroll in public schools.  More offices may realize enabling remote workers is cost effective, not just during a pandemic.  Internet based grocery shopping will finally become profitable – viral marketing in the most literal sense.

Modeling Infection

Since this blog is about GIS programming,  let’s consider Conway’s Game of Life as a type of GIS modeling.  It would be interesting to see a tool that would allow you to load up some real-world GIS data into a dynamic layer, push a button, and say “there goes the neighborhood!”.  Property values seem to change in an infectious way.

New urbanism claims a 5 minute walk to get an ice cream cone is the litmus test of neighborhood health.  I think this could be modeled.  I wonder how the density promoted by New Urbanism will fare after a flu scare.  Suburban sterility may become more appealing.  Anyway, seems like a Game of Life approach could be used to model some New Urbanism.  Use parcels for cells and distance instead of adjacency.

Infection of Modelers

These are just ideas, but they may also be thought of as memes.  While I really like using ESRI software, sometimes I fear that its proliferation has effectively innoculated the geospatial community so that ideas that cannot be implemented with ArcGIS are simply ignored.  Think of it as herd immunity.

Just as gene therapy has been identified as having potential benefits, maybe the geospatial community should consciously enroll into meme therapy.  I think James Fee’s exploration of Manifold serves as a good example of this.


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