Watch Our Seminar from Thurs, April 8th

Offering Experiential Learning Opportunities to BYU Students

BYU Operation Outbreak is focused on COVID-19 responses in society

BYU Operation Outbreak communicated the results from the simulation in a seminar on Thursday, April 8th. In this seminar we covered topics such as:

  • Vaccine efficacy at BYU
  • College demographics and getting vaccinated
  • Vaccine complacency
  • Results from the contact tracing data
  • And many more topics!

BYU Operation Outbreak has provided BYU students with an opportunity to learn about social behaviors, infectious diseases, and protective interventions during the simulated spread of a “virtual pathogen” for nine days. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the virus that causes COVID-19 was the focus of this simulation.

How Does It Work?

Operation Outbreak, which was developed by a talented team at Harvard/MIT, runs within an app that simulates spread of an infectious disease among participants. Specifically, the app takes into account the social interactions of participants as the disease spreads. This app uses Bluetooth to record anonymized interactions and tracks the spread of the virtual pathogen. You will be able to see how well you are doing via feedback on the number of contacts, virtual symptoms, virtual health status, and more. Participants can reduce their chance of being exposed to the virus by getting a vaccine for their simulation.

BYU Operation Outbreak Simulation Winter 2021

Photo Credits: Todd Jackson


As the BYU community progresses through the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many unknowns that deal with social behaviors, vaccine hesitancy, and other factors. This simulation will enable students to better understand how protective vaccinations will be on BYU campus. Participants will learn how their daily routine can result in exposure to any current or future pathogen, and how to best overcome the effects of COVID-19.

Note about privacy: The OO app keeps track of the dynamics of the outbreak by generating anonymous data: random identifiers for all devices, transmission events between those identifiers, total number of infected participants, and their simulated health status ("infected", "recovered", "dead", etc.) This data will enable subsequent visualization and analysis of the outbreak, but the app will not collect any kind of identifiable information, such as name, phone number, etc. The OO app will need to keep running in the background of each device. The app will only gather data during the simulation between Friday, February 19 and Monday, March 1. After the simulation ends the OO server will no longer record anything from the app.