LUMS researchers at forefront of global disaster management


Natural disasters have grave consequences for human, social and economic environments. According to the recent Global Report on Internal Displacement, of the 30.6 million displacements that occurred in 2017, 61% were disaster-related displacements.

Southeast Asia is the most disaster-prone region in the world. The Philippines and Vietnam were among the ten worst affected countries in the world with 2.5 million and 633,000 displacements respectively, whilst Indonesia and Myanmar ranked 12th and 13th with 365,000 and 351,000 displacements.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) research indicates that between 2015 and 2030, 40% of global economic losses from disasters will be in Asia and the Pacific, while the region accounts for around 36% of global GDP.

The ORDER project aims to enhance human, institutional and logistics capacity of the organisations involved in disaster management to deliver fast and reliable responses and to ensure that alerts are translated into effective actions.

Professor Juliana Sutanto and Professor Konstantinos Zografos of Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) brought together their expertise in Operational Research and Information Systems to design a Decision Support System (DSS) for disaster management organisations. Among the benefits of informed decisions are more efficient resource utilization, timeliness of the responses, and increase accuracy and consistency of the decisions made.

To accelerate as well as broaden the potential impact of the ORDER project, focusing initially on the most disaster-prone region in the world, i.e. Southeast Asia, Prof. Sutanto and Prof. Zografos and organised a workshop in the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand on 9-10 January 2019.

The workshop was within the framework of Accelerating Impact for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AIDE-Response) project funded by EPSRC GCRF Global Impact Accelerator Account. The workshop was attended by representatives from the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre), disaster management authorities of the three most vulnerable countries in the region (Philippine, Indonesia, and Myanmar), non-governmental organisations that are actively involved in disaster management and response, and UN agencies (FAO, UNESCAP, UNICEF).

Workshop participants highlighted the institutional and technical barriers in disaster emergency management decisions and the potential enablers to overcome the barriers, among which is a Decision Support System (DSS) that incorporates static and dynamic data to propose the best course of action, such as logistics routing and evacuation plans.

In addition to the beneficial effect in terms of increasing the timeliness, accuracy, and consistency of the decisions made, the participants pointed out some other potential positive impacts of a DSS. These included (1) consideration of the requirements of population groups with special mobility needs, especially with respect to evacuation, (2) increased security and safety of the responders, and (3) post-action assessment and review.

At the end of the workshop, the participants co-created the prioritization of the DSS implementation needs and discussed the road map to implementation to accelerate the impact of the ORDER project.

Professor Juliana Sutanto and Professor Konstantinos Zografos are now continuing to design and develop the Decision Support System (DSS), taking into account the workshop participants’ feedback. A pilot study, undertaken with communities where there is comprehensive data available as input to the model base, will be undertaken to take the DSS to the next stage. Keep abreast of the latest developments for ORDER, as well as the wider Centre for Transport and Logistics.

Prof. Juliana Sutanto is a Professor in Information Systems, Director of MSc. in E-Business and Innovation and Co-Director of the Connected Communities Research Lab.

Professor Konstantinos G. Zografos, Ph.D, FCILT, is Associate Dean, Research.

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