Workshop on Pedestrian Dynamics and Epidemic Modeling


VIPRA  is an interdisciplinary multi-university project to analyze new strategies for reducing the risk of spread of viral infections through air-travel. We recently obtained another grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a Cyberinfrastructure for Pedestrian Dynamics-Based Analysis of Infection Propagation Through Air Travel. This cyberinfrastructure will include the following components.

  1. A modular software for pedestrian dynamics to which researchers from the community can contribute their models.
  2. Software that permits the creation of a workflow to link pedestrian dynamics results with infection transmission and phylogeography models.
  3. Tools and data for rigorous analysis and validation.
  4. Interfaces for researchers and decision-makers to visualize results on the local and global impact of local policies on spreading diseases.

Workshop goals

This workshop will involve a small number of invited speakers from relevant research and decision-making communities that can leverage the proposed infrastructure. Our goals are as follows.

  1. Identify desirable software features for the pedestrian dynamics, epidemic modeling, and bioinformatics research communities.
  2. Determine the types of questions that decision-makers would find useful for scientists to answer.
  3. Develop plans to grow the community that can leverage pedestrian dynamics for modeling disease spread.

We aim to write a “perspectives” type paper, along with other workshop participants, on the promises and challenges in this research direction. We also plan to initiate a VIPRA Users Group for potential users of the proposed cyberinfrastructure. We wish to identify leads from different disciplines for outreach into their respective communities.

Location and travel

The workshop will be held at the beautiful campus of the University of West Florida in Pensacola. It will be in Room 219, Building 234. Pensacola is a coastal town on the Florida gulf coast, known for its beaches. The weather is typically in the 60s (Fahrenheit) in February.

We will cover the cost of travel, boarding, and lodging for invited speakers, in accordance with the policies of the State of Florida and the University of West Florida. Pensacola is served by the Pensacola International Airport (PNS).

Location and travel

Airport to hotel: Please exit the airport through the main exit doors, walk straight through the parking garage, and then continue following a covered walkway beyond the garage to the Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport hotel. It ought to be a 3-minute walk. (Google maps takes you around the garage, which is a 9-minute walk.) Alternatively, you can call the hotel shuttle at +1 850 483 5599.

Hotel to airport: The hotel shuttle will pick you up from the hotel at 8 am Central each day and drop you back. Alternatively, you may drive to the workshop venue and park in Lot E. Please let us know ahead of time so that we can send you a parking permit. Google maps typically takes you to the wrong place. Please enter the following exactly to get to the correct location: University of West Florida, Lot E, Campus Drive, Pensacola, FL. The entrance to the parking lot will have a sign mentioning ‘Florida State University College of Medicine‘. 


All times are Central Standard Time

Thursday, February 6

Breakfast at hotel (free for the workshop group)

8:00 am: Shuttle from the hotel to the workshop venue

8:30 am – 9:30 am: Introduction to VIPRA CSSI project goals and purpose of the workshop

9:30 am – 10:30 am: Pedestrian dynamics talks (10-15 minutes talks on each group’s research plans) 

10:30 am – 10:45 am: Break

10:45 am – 11:45 am: Epidemic modeling talks (10-15 minutes talks on research that could leverage pedestrian dynamics)

11:45 am – 1 pm: Working lunch: Discussions on integrating pedestrian dynamics and epidemic modeling

1 pm – 2 pm: Bioinformatics and applications talks (10-15 minutes talks on research that could link pedestrian dynamics) 

2 pm – 3 pm: Decision-maker talks (10-15 minutes talks on needs from a decision making perspective) 

  • Dr. Ansa Jordaan, International Civil Aviation Organization, The role of epidemic modeling in preventing transmission of disease through air travel
  • Scott Pritchard, Florida Department of Health, Cancelled
  • Jim Durwin, Tallahassee International Airport, Communicable Disease Preparedness at US Airports
  • Dr. Robert “Wes” Farr, Former Executive Officer, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center, Communicable Diseases on Aircraft

3 pm – 3:15 pm: Break

3:15 pm – 4 pm: Software architecture

  • Brian Eddy, University of West Florida

4 pm – 5 pm: Discussion of desired features

  • Research users: Brian Eddy
  • Decision makers: Robert Pahle

Shuttle back to the hotel

Friday, February 7

Breakfast at hotel (free for the workshop group)

8:00 am: Shuttle from the hotel to the workshop venue

8:30 am – 9:30 am: Finalize software plan and discuss perspectives paper

9:30 am – 10:45 am: Outreach plans, including VIPRA User Group formation

10:45 am – 11 am: Break

11 am – 12:15 pm: Action items

Shuttle to airport or visit to Gulf Islands National Seashore

  • The shuttle will arrive at 11:45 am to pick up those with a 1:30 pm or earlier flight
  • We will drop off those with later flights after the workshop is over
  • We can take those with 3:30 pm or later flights to the Gulf Islands National Seashore and then drop them off at the airport, if interested

Organizing Committee Co-Chairs

Ashok Srinivasan, University of West Florida

Sirish Namilae, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Matthew Scotch, Arizona State University

Anuj Mubayi, Arizona State University

Robert Pahle, New York University

Brian Eddy, University of West Florida

Student Volunteers

Aastha Gunjan

Tasvirul Islam

Barry Sly-Delgado


Ashok Srinivasan: