Doing Good with Good Operations Research: Ergun, Keskinocak, and Swann Edits Interfaces Special Issue on Humanitarian Applications

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The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) has released a special issue of Interfaces titled “Humanitarian Applications: Doing Good with Good OR.”

Three professors from the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Associate Professor Ozlem Ergun, Joseph C. Mello Professor Pinar Keskinocak, and Harold R. and Mary Anne Nash Associate Professor Julie Swann, edited the issue and also wrote the introduction on the importance of using operations research (OR) and management science (MS) in the decision making process to analyze complex situations to have a wider, more systematic approach to promoting human welfare.  “These activities cover a wide range of issues from health care and education delivery to developing livable cities and ensuring homeland security, issues that impact the entire society.”

The special issue also includes seven papers that address some of the key problems from the humanitarian and public sectors and suggests potential solution approaches.  They are:

  • Pre-Positioning of Emergency Items for CARE International (Serhan Duran, Marco A. Gutierrez, Pinar Keskinocak) To improve CARE’s disaster response, a research group from the Georgia Institute of Technology collaborated with CARE to develop a model to evaluate the effect that pre-positioning relief items would have on CARE’s average relief-aid emergency response time.
  • Optimizing Schedules for Maritime Humanitarian Cooperative Engagements from a United States Navy Sea Base (Javier Salmerón, Jeffrey Kline, Greta Spitz Densham)  Global Fleet Station Mission Planner (GFSMP), an optimization tool, aids in mission planning and scheduling humanitarian-assistance missions for the United States Navy.
  • Helping a Small Development Organization Manage Volunteers More Efficiently (Mauro Falasca, Christopher Zobel, Cliff Ragsdale)  The authors develop a spreadsheet-based, multicriteria model for scheduling volunteers for a small development organization in a South American country.
  • Quantitative Methods for a New Configuration of Territorial Units in a Chilean Government Agency Tender Process  (Guillermo Durán, Rafael Epstein, Cristian Martinez, Gonzalo Andres Zamorano)  Operations research methodologies configure territorial units for providing school meal services in Chile.
  • A Mathematical Programming Approach to Applicant Selection for a Degree Program Based on Affirmative Action (Guillermo Durán, Rodrigo Wolf-Yadlin) Mathematical programming models are used in the applicant selection process for a master’s degree program at the University of Chile.
  • Doing Good with Good OR: Supporting Cost-Effective Hepatitis B Interventions (David W. Hutton, Margaret L. Brandeau, Samuel K. So) New combinations of decision analysis and Markov models analyze the cost-effectiveness of several interventions to combat Hepatitis B in the United States and China.
  • A Nonhomogeneous Agent-Based Simulation Approach to Modeling the Spread of Disease in a Pandemic Outbreak (Dionne M. Aleman, Theodorus G. Wibisono, Brian Schwartz) The Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion implements an agent-based simulation model for pandemic planning.

Interfaces, a bimonthly journal of INFORMS, is dedicated to improving the practical application of OR/MS to decisions and policies in today's organizations and industries. Each article provides details of the completed application, along with the results and impact on the organization.

INFORMS is the largest professional society in the world for professionals in the field of OR, MS, and business analytics.  The Institute serves as a focal point for OR professionals, permitting them to communicate with each other and reach out to other professional societies, as well as the varied clientele of the profession's research and practice. 

Click here to read the issue.


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