Submitted to the D4D Senegal (2014).
The possiblity to analyze, quantify and forecast epidemic outbreaks is fundamental when devising effective disease containment strategies. Policy makers are faced with an intricate task of drafting realistically implementable policies that strike a balance between risk management and cost. Two major techniques policy makers have at their disposal are: epidemic modelling and contact tracing. Models are used to forecast the evolution of the epidemic both globally and regionally. While contact tracing is used to reconstruct the chain of the people that have been potentially infected, so that they can be tested, isolated and treated immediately. However, both techniques might provide limited information, especially during an already advanced crisis when the need for action is urgent. In this paper we propose an alternative that goes beyond epidemic modelling and contact tracing, and leverages behavioral data generated by mobile carrier networks to evaluate contagion risk on a per-user basis. The individual risk represents the loss incurred by not isolating or treating a specific person, both in terms of how likely it is for this person to spread the disease as well as how many secondary infections it will cause. To this aim, we develop a model, named Progmosis, which quantifies this risk based on movement and regional aggregated statistics about infection rates. We develop and release an open-source tool that calculates this risk based on cellular network events. We simulate a realistic epidemic scenario, based on an Ebola virus outbreak; we find that gradually restricting the mobility of a subset of individuals reduces the number of infected people after 30 days by 24%.