Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crisis in Greece but Dynamics of Disasters Conference Goes On!

The debt crisis in Greece is top news all around the world. The past two evenings, for example, BBC had over 30 minutes of coverage on the topic beginning at 10PM. The New York Times even has an article on the brain drain in Greece, which I am well aware of, given the outflow of professionals, including academics.

This is also the period that our Dynamics of Disasters conference is taking place in Kalamata, Greece. I thank all of my OR/MS colleagues for messages of concern. It has been a very interesting time (and I have been to Greece for conferences both last summer and the summer before).

It has been fascinating to be in Greece during this crisis. We have walked from ATM to ATM since they have been emptied out with Greeks faced with a limit of 60 euros per card per day since Sunday. I was reminded of Dr. Radhika Kulkarni's (VP of R&D Analytics at SAS) presentation at the Isenberg School of Management this past spring, which included her work on where ATMs should be refilled!The queues at the ATMs with funds are long as the photo we took below reveals.
The conference has been great. I posted some commentary in my previous post along with photos and below I add to the photos and discussion.

Today, in addition to a talk by  a political scientist, we have had presentations from a physicists, from engineers, and also from operations researchers and management scientists. Clearly, we are seeing a need for holistic, systematic perspectives and approaches that can benefit practitioners and disaster management professionals. Today we heard talks ranging on such topics as narrative retrospection - explaining Danish and Swedish political dynamics in wake of the 2004 tsunami (in which 600 hundred Swedes and Danes perished in Thailand - the biggest such loss of life in years of Swedes in a natural disaster, albeit far from home) by Dr. Oliver Rubin, how to model pandemic dynamics by Dr. Edward Thommes of GSK  with Professor Monica-Gabriela Cojocaru (I was pleased to see my research cited here on projected dynamical systems), horizontal cooperation among humanitarian organizations with a focus on the UN (by Professor Fuminori Toyasaki of York University with colleagues), and even tornado detection from radar data with the use of machine learning (of course, presented by a colleague from the University of Oklahoma, Professor Trafalis), and even network criticality and disaster response with results for the 2007 Peloponnese wildfires, given by Professor Mitsakis of the Hellenic Transport Institute. Professor Mitsakis with his collaborators has been applying the Nagurney and Qiang network efficiency/performance measure to identify the importance of links (such as roads) and their rankings. It was great to see how the work that Patrick Qiang and I did is being used now in many different applications and countries. Our Fragile Networks book, which summarized many of our papers on the topic.

It was also great to hear Professor Sakis Migdalas, who is Greek, and is now a Professor at the University of Lulea in Sweden, one of the most northern universities on the planet, talk about transportation and distribution models.

Of course, Distinguished University Professor, Panos M. Pardalos was amazing in presenting his latest work on evacuation networks and centrality measure.

Below are photos of presenters, the audience, and more, that were taken today.

I thank my co-organizers, Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida and Professor Ilias Kotsireas of Wilfrid Laurier University, for such a stimulating conference during a historic (and unplanned) debt crisis in Greece. It was wonderful to work with them on this conference. We are looking forward to getting together a very nice conference volume proceedings.
Tonight is the conference gala dinner, which we are all very much looking forward to. As the Prime Minister of Greece Tsipras said the other day on BBC news, the sun will shine again.