In a recent study on which airport would be most likely to spread an outbreak like SARS or swine flu, Honolulu surprisingly was number three on the list!
MIT researchers built a computer model to determine "mobility patterns of individual travelers, and derived a metric to rank which airports in the United States would be the most influential spreaders of disease."
Whatever that means. LOLz!
It would make sense that two of the busiest airports in the US would make it to the podium for gold and silver, but why did Honolulu (who isn't even in the top 20 busiest airports) take the bronze?
The BBC rationalizes the finding:
"Honolulu airport 'combines three important features that catalyze contagion spreading,' the study reports. Its geographical positioning in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes it a prime layover between the US west coast and large Asian hubs; it's also "well connected" to other powerful spreader airports, such as LAX; and it sees a high volume of long-range travel; all of which would help to spread a disease outbreak."
Because human travel patterns are so predictable, this is all pretty terrifyingly accurate.
Hopefully this model will allow us to stop the next big outbreak before it even starts!
Way to go, MIT!