Abstract: This work presents a multi-period optimization model to support evacuation operations during flood disasters. The model identifies where and when to open a predefined number of shelters, when to send evacuation orders to the affected communities, and how to assign evacuees to shelters over time. The objective is to minimize the overall network distances that evacuees have to travel to reach the shelters. The model takes into account that travel times vary over time depending on the flood propagation and resulting road conditions. Evacuee demand for shelters is also considered to be dynamic and dependent on the timing of the warning signals. The shelters become available in different time periods and have a limited capacity. We present a mathematical formulation for this model which can be solved using an off-the-shelf commercial optimization solver, but only for small instances. To solve real size instances efficiently, a simulated annealing heuristic is proposed. The heuristic performance is evaluated on a set of random problems. The applicability of the multi-period model is illustrated using a case study which highlights the importance of adopting a dynamic approach for optimizing emergency response operations.


Biography: Dr Scaparra is a Reader in Management Science at Kent Business School, University of Kent. Dr Scaparra earned a M.Sc. in Engineering-Economic Systems and Operations Research from Stanford University in 2000 and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Applied to Economic Decisions from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 2002. Before joining Kent Business School, she held a position as a postdoctoral researcher in infrastructure and transportation planning at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Dr Scaparra’s research interests include the application of optimization techniques to location analysis, critical infrastructure protection planning, and disaster management among others. She has published several papers and book chapters on these topics in top-ranked operational research and geography journals, such as Management Science, the European Journal of Operational Research, Transportation Science and the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Dr Scaparra has been involved in several international, multi-disciplinary and consultancy projects, including KTPs, EPSRC, DSTL, and European projects.

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