Reducing Error in Ebola Projections

Using only data from the early weeks of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, a new model produces more accurate forecasts of the size of the epidemic, and where the disease will spread, than models used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time.

Hover over or click on a location to see how the model’s unique adjustments for two factors affected the forecast error rate. (The error rate is the percent difference between the new model’s predicted number of cases in a given location and the actual number of cases that occurred.) “Without behavior” indicates what the error rate would have been if the model had not adjusted for preventive measures people took during outbreaks, such as limiting travel. “Without distance” shows the error rate without the researchers’ formula for considering the location’s proximity to outbreaks. The “new model” error rates include both factors, a formula that researchers found to be the most consistently reliable for improving forecasts.

Source: Long, Nohdurft and Spinler (2018), Spatial Resource Allocation for Emerging Epidemics
Data visualization by Gail Zuniga