Social distancing refers to deliberate actions taken by individuals and communities to reduce human social interaction, often in an effort to prevent the spread of contagious infections. Social distancing began dominating headlines in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Tech's Role in Facilitating Social Distancing
Technology plays a huge role in helping social distancing work, as the widespread use of mobile devices, Wi-Fi, internet of technology (IoT) things, and apps like FaceTime and Google Classroom help enable social interaction, work productivity, and educational learning without needing to be face to face or in an office or classroom setting.
Social distancing doesn’t mean complete social isolation, though, as experts typically endorse still being able to meet in small groups, go outdoors in public parks or shop for groceries, for example.
Rather, with social distancing, abstaining from attending large group gatherings like sporting events, conferences, church, and school, while also using technology to facilitate working from home and/or learning remotely (i.e. e-learning, or “distance learning”), are highly encouraged to hep limit the potential spread of infectious diseases.
Image Source: Joshua Weitz of Georgia Tech
The Elegant (and Scary) Math Behind Social Distancing
Social distancing is based on the dramatically increasing higher probability of spreading an infectious disease as the size of a social gathering increases. Based on a mathematical report by quantitative biologist Joshua Weitz of Georgia Tech and the projected 20,000 cases of COVID-19 in the US (at that time), in a small group gathering of 10 or so individuals, there would only be a 0.061% chance an attendee would be infected with the virus.
Attending a sporting or similar event with 10,000 people, on the other hand, would increase the odds to 45%, and attending a huge sporting event like March Madness basketball or the Super Bowl would create a near 100% chance that at least one individual would be carrying and likely spreading infectious disease.
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