During the pandemic, Michigan researcher Jon Zelner came to think epidemiologists needed to think more like engineers than scientists, informing practical decision-making in an evolving crisis. Now the infrastructure he thinks is needed to do that is emerging. The US Centers for Disease Control’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics aims to enable a coordinated, coherent response to an unfolding pandemic. Getting better at forecasting is part of its vision for innovation. The idea is to reduce uncertainty with better analyses and better data, while clearly communicating what is not known and its consequences -- in other words, thinking like an engineer.

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