CCOUC Lunch-Time Lecture Series 2016: Information Dissemination under Emergencies and its Extension in Public Health

Dr Nan Zhang from Tsinghua University shared his research on information dissemination model in a lunchtime lecture hosted by CCOUC on 5 December 2016. Some 20 participants learnt about Dr Zhang’s innovative way of modelling information dissemination, as well as its application in the contexts of disaster, rumour and infectious diseases. Dr Zhang attached to CCOUC under a 3-month fellowship in the Fall semester of 2016 to conduct research in disaster and public health information dissemination.

China is one of the most disaster-affected countries globally. Dr Zhang suggested that 90% of deaths may be reduced if an efficient disaster information warning and dissemination system can be developed. His information dissemination model was established by considering 14 types of information media. Combining the information dissemination model with the 8-state ICSAR model, and using Beijing as an example, the risk of rumor propagation considering large personal activity trajectory data and governmental rumor refutation is also assessed. Similar modeling may be extrapolated to public health issues such as the spread of infectious diseases. Based on the rumor propagation model, infectious disease propagation is simulated considering infectious ability, personal resistance, behavior impacts and resilience. The model and the results provide technical references for decision making towards disaster warning dissemination, rumor propagation control and infectious diseases containment in society.

Dr Zhang received his Master’s and PhD degrees at the Institute of Public Safety Research, Tsinghua University, China. He visited the Environment School of Duke University during the 2014-2015 academic year. His research interests include risk and resilience analysis under disasters, disaster information dissemination and infectious diseases propagation. Dr Zhang has published over 10 journal articles in Environmental International, Scientific Reports, PLoS One, Natural Hazards, Physica A and Chinese Science Bulletin.