Incorporating geographical contacts into social network analysis for contact tracing in epidemiology: A study on Taiwan SARS data

Yi Da Chen, Chunju Tseng, Chwan Chuen King, Tsung Shu Joseph Wu, Hsinchun Chen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

21 Scopus citations


In epidemiology, contact tracing is a process to control the spread of an infectious disease and identify individuals who were previously exposed to patients with the disease. After the emergence of AIDS, Social Network Analysis (SNA) was demonstrated to be a good supplementary tool for contact tracing. Traditionally, social networks for disease investigations are constructed only with personal contacts. However, for diseases which transmit not only through personal contacts, incorporating geographical contacts into SNA has been demonstrated to reveal potential contacts among patients. In this research, we use Taiwan SARS data to investigate the differences in connectivity between personal and geographical contacts in the construction of social networks for these diseases. According to our results, geographical contacts, which increase the average degree of nodes from 0 to 108.62 and decrease the number of components from 961 to 82, provide much higher connectivity than personal contacts. Therefore, including geographical contacts is important to understand the underlying context of the transmission of these diseases. We further explore the differences in network topology between one-mode networks with only patients and multi-mode networks with patients and geographical locations for disease investigation. We find that including geographical locations as nodes in a social network provides a good way to see the role that those locations play in the disease transmission and reveal potential bridges among those geographical locations and households.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIntelligence and Security Informatics
Subtitle of host publicationBiosurveillance - Second NSF Workshop, BioSurveillance 2007, Proceedings
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9783540726074
StatePublished - 2007
Event2nd NSF BioSurveillance Workshop, BioSurveillance 2007 - New Brunswick, NJ, United States
Duration: May 22 2007May 22 2007

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume4506 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other2nd NSF BioSurveillance Workshop, BioSurveillance 2007
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Brunswick, NJ


  • Contact tracing
  • Epidemiology
  • Geographical contacts
  • Personal contacts
  • SARS
  • Social Network Analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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