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The Zombie Outbreak of Salt Lake County

A virus has been unleashed! While remaining dormant in some, many have been overwhelmed by the effects and have sought medical treatment at local hospitals in Salt Lake County. With no known cure, the virus quickly spreads, transforming some into walking zombies and leaving others to fight for survival. In this Map of the Week, we explore a hypothetical zombie outbreak in Salt Lake County and how the outbreak spreads over a 24-hour period. #MapMonday

The Zombie Outbreak of Salt Lake County

OK, so we know that zombies only exist in movies, but examining how an outbreak can progress so quickly is a disturbing visual. With GIS, we can examine such an outbreak…even if it is only hypothetical.

The process begins by identifying components that visually express the story you are sharing. For this scenario, we know that the epicenters for the zombie outbreak take place at local hospitals in Salt Lake County. Using a Network Analyst tool, we can measure the hourly travel distances from each of the hospitals (or epicenters) to visualize how fast the outbreak progresses. This is possible as we know that in this scenario, a zombie can travel a distance of 1/2 mile in a 1-hour period. Using this formula and progressing the outbreak for each hour, what starts as a centralized epidemic quickly expands into a county-wide catastrophe within 24-hours with no end in sight.

A map like this is a fun example of the many possibilities GIS has to offer. Perhaps there is a fun way to share the information you are working on through a visual mapping experience.

About Map of the Weeks from GIS Services:

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will continue releasing bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics for the purpose of demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into research and projects you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects or to learn about the geospatial services offered through the Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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