2024 Investiture Information

All Thayer Events

Socially Optimal Solutions in Disaster Response Logistics



12:00pm - 1:00pm ET


Meeting ID: 940 0367 9744
Passcode: 200534

Disaster preparedness efforts are becoming much more crucial than ever before. After disasters and catastrophic events, resources are mostly or entirely destroyed in the affected area, and local supplies may not be available, posing unique challenges to distributing relief. As a result, the logistics is bound to fail, causing desperation among the population in need. The negative impacts caused by the relief distribution are considered economic externalities. A way to measure these economic externalities is through a concept known as the deprivation cost. The deprivation cost is the cost experienced by the impacted individual for the time spent without the relief. Estimating these deprivation costs and incorporating them into the supply chain and logistics models is challenging but the most appropriate path to follow. The experiences from past disasters offer numerous examples of how the logistics failed, and most of them involved decisions that did not consider the needs of the population.

This seminar presents the research developed in the disaster response logistics field to minimize the social costs of human suffering. The work developed in Facility Location provides an example of obtaining socially optimal solutions to the disaster response logistic models. In the facility location problem, disaster relief organizations aim for optimal points of distribution (PODs) to distribute the relief supplies to the people in need after a disaster occurs. Given a fixed distribution center where relief supplies are stored, the problem considers identifying the districts’ shapes and the location of the PODs inside the district, such that it minimizes the total social costs. The social costs consider the private or logistics costs (i.e., the fixed cost of setting the POD, the transportation, and inventory holding costs) and the externalities of the distribution in the form of deprivation costs. The analytical and numerical results provide unique insights that can be used by disaster responders at the planning stage to allocate resources better and provide alternative distribution strategies of relief in the affected regions. These findings serve as guidelines for POD planning and disaster preparedness efforts for the distribution of relief.

About the Speaker(s)

Diana Ramirez-Rios
Research Assistant, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Diana Ramirez-Rios earned a PhD in transportation engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in December 2020. She also has a BS-MS in industrial engineering at Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her research interests are in humanitarian/disaster response logistics and sustainable urban freight transportation. Her recent work includes optimization models in disaster response logistics, empirical studies on the impacts of human suffering, urban freight activity modeling, and game-theoretic models in supply chains. Her dissertation work is on facility location and allocation models for disaster response.

She is a member of the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS), the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), Transportation Research Board (TRB), Minority Issues Forum (MIF), and Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS). She is a fellow of the ENO Future Leaders in Transportation, MIT CEE Rising Stars alumni, and the 2020 WTS Helene M. Overly / Leonard Braun Graduate Scholar. She was also part of the finalists’ team for the 2017 Franz Edelman Award, which developed the Off-hour Delivery Program in New York City. In 2015 she was designated as a Colciencias Scholar by the Governor of the Atlantico Department in Colombia.


For more information, contact Ashley Parker at ashley.l.parker@dartmouth.edu.