Adding heterogeneity

One of the benefits of an agent-based model like EMOD over compartmental models is that the the model can be configured to capture heterogeneity in population demographics, migration patterns, disease transmissibility, climate, and more. This heterogeneity can affect the overall course of the disease outbreak and campaign interventions aimed at controlling it.

By default, EMOD assumes transmission is homogeneous in each node: transmission does not vary based on population density, the population is “well-mixed” in each node, each individual has an equal likelihood of transmitting or contracting a disease. However, all of these aspects can be configured for greater heterogeneity to more accurately simulate a realistic population and disease dynamics.

One of the most powerful features is the ability to assign properties to nodes or individuals which can then be used to target interventions or move individuals through a health care system. In the generic simulation type, these properties can be leveraged to add heterogeneity in transmission based on the property values assigned to each individual. For example, you might configure higher transmission among school-age children. Other disease models capture heterogeneous transmission through more mechanistic parameters that control aspects like parasite density, symptoms, assortative pairing, and more.

EMOD can also simulate human and vector migration, which can be important in the transmission of many diseases. You can assign different characteristics to each geographic node to control how the disease spreads.

For more information on how you can target campaign interventions to individuals or locations based on certain criteria, see Creating campaigns.