An agent-based digital twin for exploring localized non-pharmaceutical interventions to control COVID-19 pandemic

Souvik Barat, Ritu Parchure, Shrinivas Darak, Vinay Kulkarni, Aditya Paranjape, Monika Gajrani, Abhishek Yadav, Vinay Kulkarni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The COVID-19 epidemic created, at the time of writing the paper, highly unusual and uncertain socio-economic conditions. The world economy was severely impacted and business-as-usual activities severely disrupted. The situation presented the necessity to make a trade-off between individual health and safety on one hand and socio-economic progress on the other. Based on the current understanding of the epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19, a broad set of control measures has emerged along dimensions such as restricting people’s movements, high-volume testing, contract tracing, use of face masks, and enforcement of social-distancing. However, these interventions have their own limitations and varying level of efficacy depending on factors such as the population density and the socio-economic characteristics of the area. To help tailor the intervention, we develop a configurable, fine-grained agent-based simulation model that serves as a virtual representation, i.e., a digital twin of a diverse and heterogeneous area such as a city. In this paper, to illustrate our techniques, we focus our attention on the Indian city of Pune in the western state of Maharashtra. We use the digital twin to simulate various what-if scenarios of interest to (1) predict the spread of the virus; (2) understand the effectiveness of candidate interventions; and (3) predict the consequences of introduction of interventions possibly leading to trade-offs between public health, citizen comfort, and economy. Our model is configured for the specific city of interest and used as an in-silico experimentation aid to predict the trajectory of active infections, mortality rate, load on hospital, and quarantine facility centers for the candidate interventions. The key contributions of this paper are: (1) a novel agent-based model that seamlessly captures people, place, and movement characteristics of the city, COVID-19 virus characteristics, and primitive set of candidate interventions, and (2) a simulation-driven approach to determine the exact intervention that needs to be applied under a given set of circumstances. Although the analysis presented in the paper is highly specific to COVID-19, our tools are generic enough to serve as a template for modeling the impact of future pandemics and formulating bespoke intervention strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323–353
Number of pages31
JournalTransactions of the Indian National Academy of Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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