Revealing geographic transmission pattern of COVID-19 using neighborhood-level simulation with human mobility data and SEIR model: A case study of South Carolina

Huan Ning, Zhenlong Li, Shan Qiao, Chengbo Zeng, Jiajia Zhang, Bankole Olatosi, Xiaoming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Direct human physical contact accelerates COVID-19 transmission. Smartphone mobility data has emerged as a valuable data source for revealing fine-grained human mobility, which can be used to estimate the intensity of physical contact surrounding different locations. Our study applied smartphone mobility data to simulate the second wave spreading of COVID-19 in January 2021 in three major metropolitan statistical areas (Columbia, Greenville, and Charleston) in South Carolina, United States. Based on the simulation, the number of historical county-level COVID-19 cases was allocated to neighborhoods (Census block groups) and points of interest (POIs), and the transmission rate of each allocated place was estimated. The result reveals that the COVID-19 infections during the study period mainly occurred in neighborhoods (86%), and the number is approximately proportional to the neighborhood's population. Restaurants and elementary and secondary schools contributed more COVID-19 infections than other POI categories. The simulation results for the coastal tourism Charleston area show high transmission rates in POIs related to travel and leisure activities. The results suggest that neighborhood-level infectious controlling measures are critical in reducing COVID-19 infections. We also found that households of lower socioeconomic status may be an umbrella against infection due to fewer visits to places such as malls and restaurants associated with their low financial status. Control measures should be tailored to different geographic locations since transmission rates and infection counts of POI categories vary among metropolitan areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103246
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
StatePublished - Apr 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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