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Together with Science versus Corona we organise a workshop to assess the feasibility of ‘connecting the dots’ in a collaborative research effort to develop integrated data-driven simulations for effective social distancing in public spaces.

Event details of Effective social distancing in public spaces (online)
Date 26 November 2020
Time 15:30 -17:00

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic authorities across the globe take measures to slow the spread of the virus and protect vulnerable groups from contagion. Following the original lockdown measures, most jurisdictions have continued social distancing rules. Under such rules people are asked to maintain a safe distance from people outside of their own household.

In the absence of a vaccine, successful prolonged social distancing is key to controlling virus spread and thereby avoiding drastic lock-downs. Instead of focusing on compliance and enforcement, which in many countries hasn’t been very successful so far, one could also focus on: how to make it work? How to improve the safety of work environments, public locations and events? Which interventions (e.g. nudges, floor plans) are most effective in improving social distancing?

This requires an integrated data-driven approach, that combines 1) measuring and analysing social distancing behaviour in real life situations (experiments), with 2) agent-based crowd dynamics models in which individual ‘rules’ (fed by the experiments and insights from e.g. social psychology) lead to context-sensitive contact networks, and 3) epidemiological transmission models that assess the impact on the virus spread in a given situation.


15:30-15:35 Opening by Peter Sloot

Research presentations

  • Denny Borsboom on experiments with real-time tracing
  • Dorine Duives on agent-based crowd dynamics modelling
  • Quirine ten Bosch on transmission models
16:20-16:50 Plenary discussion on the integration aspects
16:50-17:00 Wrap-up and way forward


  • Tessa Blanken, Psychological Methods / Science versus Corona, UvA
  • Denny Borsboom, Psychological Methods / Science versus Corona, UvA
  • Quirine ten Bosch, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, WUR
  • Luc Coffeng, Epidemiologist and Mathematical Modeller, Erasmus MC
  • Fabian Dablander, Psychological Methods / Science versus Corona, UvA
  • Dorine Duives, Pedestrian Travel Behaviour Analysis, TUD
  • Frenk van Harreveld, Social Psychology, UvA
  • Andrew Heathcote, Cognitive Psychology, University of Tasmania
  • Mike Lees, Computational Science/Social Complexity, UvA
  • Dora Matzke, Mathematical Psychology, UvA
  • Valentin Melnikov, Data Science, UvA  
  • Piet Van Miechem, Telecommunication Networks, TUD
  • Peter Sloot, Complex Adaptive Systems, UvA
  • Cees Snoek, Video and Image Retrieval, UvA
  • Charlotte Tanis, Psychological Methods / Science versus Corona, UvA