Saturday, November 16, 2013

Typhoon Yolanda disaster relief masterplan: a proposal using optimization algorithms

I don't know how Pres. Aquino and NDRRMC prepares for disaster and I also don't know how they coordinate relief efforts after each disaster, such as what happened in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.  What I'll present below is a possible master plan for handling a crisis like this. Maybe many ideas here were already implemented. Or maybe not. Nevertheless, I'll just write them all down for the record because my mind could not rest unless I can put my thoughts down into words.  As you will see, the system that I propose involves six components:
  • Call Center
  • Transportation Database
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Linear Programming
  • Wiki Website
Each component is important for the whole system to work; remove one of these components and the whole system becomes crippled.  But if these six components work well as designed, then no one can anymore say that Philippine government is uncoordinated or unprepared for disasters.

Call Center Management on Fast Forward: Succeeding in the New Era of Customer Relationships (3rd Edition)
Call Center Management on Fast Forward: Succeeding in the New Era of Customer Relationships (3rd Edition)
A. Call Center

1.  Hire a call-center company and an army of call center agents
2. Make a number that is easy to recall (e.g. 911) and tell people to call this number
3. Log each call. Information supplied by the caller will be logged on to different fields: name, age, location, food, water, electricity housing, disease, medicines, others.  The different information fields go to a central database
5. Contact local officials.  If they cannot be contacted or their representatives, their barangay, city, or province must be placed as a calamity area.
6. Receive calls from donors: name, age, location, type of donation--food, water, electricity, housing, medicines, etc.
7. Receive information from a webpage. The call center can have a website where all the different information fields supplied by the user.  But an agent must be assigned to check the info provided, at least, if the fields were answered properly.
8. Put all information in a central database

Designing Geodatabases for Transportation
Designing Geodatabases for Transportation
B. Transportation Database

1. Construct a database for land, water, and air transport that are available for relief operations.  The important information fields per vehicle are carrying capacity (kgs or tons), fuel per kilometer at full load capacity, maximum running time before refueling, regular speed at full load capacity, present location, departure schedule, destination, schedule of arrival.
3. Construct a database for available roads, ports, and airports.  The important parameters are tonnage capacity, maximum number of vehicles at a given time, cargo loading time, cargo unloading time, and rest time.

Understanding GIS: An ArcGIS Project Workbook
Understanding GIS: An ArcGIS Project Workbook
C. Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

1.  Use the data from the Call Center and Transportation databases to make maps of the different information fields.
2.  Extract new information fields that can be derived from the call center/BPO data.  These new data fields can be total population, percentages of people affected (food, water, housing, medicines, etc.)), donations promised specifically to the population affected (donor, type of donation), actual aid received, usage rate of particular relief goods.
3. Make maps of the road networks and transportation paths.
4. Make some infographics.

Linear Programming and Network Flows
Linear Programming and Network Flows
D.  Linear Programming

1. Draw a network of paths from donors (green) to intermediate stop points (yellow) to disaster areas (red), and relief centers (blue).  These points are the node (or vertex) points.
2. Arrange the node points by region, province, barangay.
3. Construct a matrix with the arranged node points as rows and also as columns.  The elements of the matrix are the distances between the node points.We shall call this the path matrix.
4. Use the path matrix to construct an algorithm that shall find the method that shall deliver the most number of relief good type (food or water or others) per capita to disaster areas in the shortest time at the shortest cost.
5. Choose the best optimized method of relief operation.
6. Make a simulation of the relief operations with visualizations of the vehicles traversing the islands
7. Make a simulation of human consumption of relief goods (food and water, etc), so that the relief delivered gets depleted as the days go by.
8. Update the initial conditions using new data.

Professional Wikis
Professional Wikis
E. Wiki Website

1. Make a Wiki website for all Philippine natural disasters similar to wikipedia.
2. Make a list of natural disasters for the main page
3. Make a separate wiki page per disaster that is linked to the main page. List here all typhoons or all earthquakes or all landslides etc. arranged according to date
5. Make a wiki page per specific disaster with a link to the disaster type where it belongs and the places where it happened.
6. Make a wiki page per location: donor locations, intermediate stop points, hospitals, evacuation centers, disaster areas.

Disaster Management: International Lessons in Risk Reduction, Response and Recovery
Disaster Management: International Lessons in Risk Reduction, Response and Recovery

1. Adopt one of the optimized disaster relief operation method.
2. Provide a forecast of delivery times and number or goods delivered at each disaster area.
3. Inform the Call Center, the GIS, and the Wiki Website about the new forecasts and actual deliveries.
4. Coordinate with all the concerned parties on the schedule of loading and unloading of relief goods.
5. Receive feedback on the actual loading and unloading schedules from transportation groups and node points.
6. Sends feedback to Transportation Database.  The Linear Programmers makes a new simulation and NDRRMC makes a new forecast of delivery of goods.

The most important thing is the government must keep people informed.