Humanitarian Logistics

Simulations to Improve Flood Response Skills

To respond to complex river floodings, professional training to foster the comprehension of systemic behaviors and interdependencies is crucial. Simulations have great potential to enable such insights by allowing decision-makers to investigate different scenarios in a risk-free environment.

In a recent work, we used the software STELLA 10.1.1 to provide decision-makers a tool to investigate various resource deployment strategies within a flexible user interface. A system dynamic model is presented to investigate the supply of relief goods considering both the needs of relief units and evacuees. Resources are limited and transport infrastructure may be damaged in the simulated environment. Additionally, the possibility of a hoarding behavior (i.e. people may overstock goods as supplies decrease) is modeled. Results show that the increase in the level of the water gauge and the corresponding reaction times are major focus points to reduce stock-outs. The complete model and a detailed description of all influencing parameters are given in the journal publication. Equations are further available at the Institute’s webpage.

Such simulations can be incorporated in serious games or used to study and discuss various educational case studies. Additionally, the combination of multiple simulation models such as those shown in previous research focusing on system thinking and simulation optimization methods during river floods, enables one to provide integrated training packages. Consequently, simulation can play a major part to improve decision-making skills in disaster relief situations.

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://dx.doi.org/10.1108/dpm-04-2016-0081
–          Fikar, C, Gronalt, M, Hirsch, P (2016) A decision support system for coordinated disaster relief distribution. Expert Systems with Applications 57, 104-116. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eswa.2016.03.039
–          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

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Christian Fikar is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Production Management at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). Until May 2018, he 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.

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