In 2009 the German Robert Koch Institute mandated us to prepare an epidemic simulator for their „MenschMikrobe“ exhibition. We already had developed an individual based influenza simulator that helped public health authorities to make their contingency plans for the next pandemic. This simulator though was to complex for an exhibition addressed to the general public. After all it has more than fifty parameters that can be adjusted to different scenarios of an influenza epidemic.
In collaboration with K-Projekt, who were in charge of the exhibition, we selected a choice of parameters and reduced the number of settings so that only the major experiments could be performed. We implemented a user interface that fitted the design of the planned exhibition and installed our simulator on a computer with touch display.
The spread of an epidemic is not a linear process. As a result the outcomes of a simulation do not correlate in a linear way with the chosen interventions. To make this apparent even to not mathematically skilled persons it was our concern to deliver the simulator with an interactive user interface. Playing around with the parameter settings the users of our simulator could easily get an intuitive understanding of the forces that drive an epidemic.
As a part of the „MenschMikrobe“ exhibition, that was on tour from 2010 to 2014, our simulator was on display in fifteen cities all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland where it found general approval.