Network Science To Aid Disaster Relief Operations

Scientists from Singapore have modeled the flow of goods and relief efforts to obtain better logistical contingency plans.

AsianScientist (Apr. 29, 2014) – A team of scientists based in Singapore has developed a model that measures the flow of goods and other relief efforts, offering strategies that may hedge against infrastructural damage during disasters.

Natural disasters are known to damage facilities that serve as storage for relief supplies, rendering efforts desirable that implement efficient and effective post-disaster outreach. Notably, such solutions need to account for contingencies to achieve higher robustness.

Led by Dr. Christopher Monterola, Senior Scientist at the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, the team used open data and techniques from network science to investigate the logistics of disaster relief.

They converted a road map system into a road network of nodes and edges, which allowed them to quantify the reachability of critical loci within a geographic area where a disaster has struck. The flexibility of their model subsequently allowed them to evaluate the various effects of a range of possible hypothetical infrastructural destruction scenarios, which they demonstrate to be crucial toward formulating effective logistical contingency plans.

In their research, which was recently published in the International Journal of Modern Physics C, they also tested their model on the roadmap of the city of Tacloban in central Philippines, which was hit by Typhoon Haiyan earlier this year.

The article can be found at: Valenzuela et al. (2014) A network perspective on the calamity, induced inaccessibility of communities and the robustness of centralized, landbound relief efforts.


Source: World Scientific Publishing; Photo: DFID – UK Department for International Development/Flickr/CC.
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Alan Aw is a maths enthusiast who likes sharing the fun and beauty of science with others. Besides reading, he enjoys running, badminton, and listening to (and occasionally playing) Bach or Zez Confrey.

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