Effective Distance and Shortest Paths in Global Mobility

based on D. Brockmann & D. Helbing, The hidden geometry of complex, network-driven contagion phenomena, Science 342 1337. (2013)
The foundation of the tool is a subset of the worldwide air transportation network (1568 airports and all the passenger traffic between them). Based on the idea that places that are connected by large traffic should be effectively closer in a plausible map layout and places with little traffic further apart, we introduced the concept of effective distance (Science 342 1337. (2013)) in the context of global contagion phenomena. One can use this method to compute a location’s perspective on the world and effective distances and effectively shortest paths to all other locations. These paths often dominated the most likely spreading paths of pandemics and can quantify the relative import risk of emergent infectious diseases.

In the tool below (click on image to start) you can view the world based on effective distances. Click on the nodes in the tool to change the perspective. You can also chose a specific airport by providing its 3-letter code. Play with different distance representations.

An interesting aspect of effective distance is its asymmetry. For instance the effective distance from location A to location B is not necessarily the same as vice versa. This is because the relative probability of a person traveling from a small, remote location to a big hub in the air transportation network is usually higher than a person travelling from a hub to a remote location. If you want to know more, details are provided here: (Science 342 1337. (2013)).

Note that the tool works best in Chrome, Safari and IE but does not work well in Firefox because some of the interactive features are sluggish in Firefox.
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