Humanitarian Logistics

System Thinking for Disaster Response 

To respond to a disaster and to mitigate impact and damages, complex and time-critical situations need to be analyzed quickly. To facilitate understanding, education and constant training of relief forces are crucial. Operations research tools can help to improve decison-making skills by supporting system thinking.

To respond to a disaster and to mitigate impact and damages, complex and time-critical situations need to be analyzed quickly. To facilitate understanding, education and constant training of relief forces are crucial. Operations research tools can help to improve decison-making skills by supporting system thinking.

System dynamcis is an emerging method within humanitarian logistics in this context. It allows decision-makers to analyze complex settings and further to simulate and investigate different scenarios and decisions in a risk-free environment. Consequently, a wide range of problem settings can be investigated, including:

  • Cascade effects, i.e. chain of events such as a flood leading to road closures and power outage;
  • Conflicting needs of relief forces and evacuees, e.g., demand for commodities at regional distribution centers; and
  • Deployment of relief forces, e.g., starting evacuation measures versus protecting critical infrastructure.

The integration of such models in serious games and training modules fosters system thinking and enables better understanding of complex settings and critical delaying condition in disaster response operations.

References:
–          Berariu, R, Fikar, C, Gronalt, M, Hirsch, P (2016) Training decision-makers in flood response with system dynamics.  Disaster Prevention and Management 25(2), 118-136. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/dpm-06-2015-0140
          Berariu, R, Fikar, C, Gronalt, M, Hirsch, P (2016) Resource deployment under consideration of conflicting needs in times of river floods. Disaster Prevention and Management 25(5), 649-663. DOI http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/DPM-04-2016-0081?af=R&
–          Berariu, R, Fikar, C, Gronalt, M, Hirsch, P (2015) Understanding the impact of cascade effects of natural disasters on disaster relief operations. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 12, 350–356. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.03.005

Image: BOKU

Christian Fikar is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Production Management at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). Until May 2018, we was part of the Institute for Production and Logistics at University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU). His research fields include logistics, supply chain management and related decision support systems to investigate and optimize delivery processes, particularly for humanitarian and e-grocery operations.

1 comment on “System Thinking for Disaster Response 

  1. Pingback: Simulations to Improve Flood Response Skills – Christian Fikar

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