Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Emergency Preparedness and Humanitarian Logistics

Doing Good with Good O.R. (Operations Research) has been a theme of one of my professional societies -- INFORMS. It is a theme that resonates with many and never has there been a time when the best in analytics should be applied to help solve some of the world's most pressing problems.

Crises, in particular, bring new challenges to problem-solving due to the immediacy of needs in terms of food, water, and medical supplies.

This Friday, in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series, we will be hosting Professor Jose Holquin-Veras of RPI, who will be speaking on Emergency Logistics Issues Impacting the Response to KATRINA: What Went Wrong? What Could We Do to Avoid a Repeat?
Immediately prior to his presentation, at 10:30AM, the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter will be hosting in ISOM Room 112 a special reception to display the award plaque that it received at the INFORMS San Diego conference last week.

We are honored that Professor Holquin-Veras will be speaking in our series. Interestingly, last week, President Obama was in New Orleans to survey the lingering impacts of Katrina. Not only do I have a family member living there but also several friends. Some former residents that I know well have left and many are still struggling.

To demonstrate the unique challenges associated with humanitarian logistics and emergency preparedness, I developed a website in conjunction with the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Conference: Humanitarian Logistics: Networks for Africa conference that I organized. This website contains many of the presentations given at the conference and one, delivered by Professor Emmett Lodree, focuses on Hurricane Katrina and impacts even on his close family. Please also look at the presentation of Mr. Antony Cooper of CSIR in South Africa, which is deeply illuminating.

We are now researching emergency and humanitarian supply chains.