7:30AM Session on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief as the Sun Was Rising
This morning I work up extra early and marched in the darkness to the Convention Center for our 7:30AM session on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
This was a first for me – speaking that early at an INFORMS conference. The session was terrific and many thanks to the Co-Chairs: Erica Gralla of GWU, and Ozlem Ergun and Keziban Rukiye Tasci of Northeastern University for organizing it.
We got to hear from Jarrod Goentzel of MIT on his latest work on multi-attribute value analysis for a multi-echelon supply chain focusing on malaria in Uganda as well as from Seyma Guven-Kocak on her work with Pinar Keskinocak from Georgia Tech on a network model for debris clearance post-disasters with uncertainty and learning. Jarrod noted how different stakeholders can have entirely different objectives and priorities and these need to be captured and understood for effectiveness. Seyma elegantly demonstrated the network approach with clear graphics and excellent motivation for the work.
Then it was time for me to speak on our game theory model that integrates financial and logistical aspects under imposed demand bounds for relief supplies for coordination purposes. The model extends our recently published paper using the concept of a variational equilibrium for Generalized Nash Equilibrium. This work is with a former student and collaborator at Cisco and colleagues from Italy and was applied to a case study of an actual tornado that hit western Massachusetts in 2011.
Erica Gralla was excellent at keeping the speakers within the allocated time slots and then presented her work on practice-based heuristics for humanitarian transportation planning which was very engaging and illuminating from a practice perspective. Can heuristics come close to an optimal solution based on different criteria for delivery of goods?! Can we provide easy tools for practitioners?! Seeing is believing.
Keziban Rukiye Tasci of Northeastern University then ended the very informative session by speaking on her work with Ozlem Ergun on humanitarian food aid operations with different transfer modalities, another talk that I thoroughly enjoyed. She dramatically illustrated the variations in prices of commodities in terms of procurement over time and presented a time expanded network model. She discussed different transportation options including ocean freight for food deliveries with issues of quality also noted.
And, impressively, there were many more in the audience than speakers, which made for a lively Q&A.