Distribution of vital goods in urban areas - balancing permanent and temporary distribution sites

  • Research project:Distribution of vital goods in urban areas - balancing permanent and temporary distribution sites
  • type:Masterarbeit
  • Date:ab sofort
  • Tutor:

    M.Sc. Florian Diehlmann
    +49 721 608-44674
    florian.diehlmann@kit.edu

    M.Sc. Hannah Bakker (IOR)
    hannah.bakker@kit.edu

  • Research group:

    Content

    The objective of Humanitarian Logistics is to provide goods to people in need after the impact of a disaster as fast as possible. However, there is a time lag until resources are available on a large scale since resources are scarce and can only be activated successively. Consequently, decision-makers need to carefully allocate resources to increase the disaster intervention impact. This includes, inter alia, the selection of distribution locations (PoDs) or the allocation of staff to these locations.

    In particular, during the early stages of a response to a sudden or gradually evolving crisis, time is a crucial aspect. The number of people in need of support rises steadily while the establishment of a humanitarian supply system requires time. Even though it is crucial to supply as many goods as possible, aspects considering fairness cannot be neglected. One promising approach to include fairness into logistics models is the concept of deprivation levels, which represent an individual’s level of suffering. However, including deprivation costs in logistical models is challenging from modeling, as well as a solution perspective.

    There are two types of PoDs: permanently installed PoDs, e.g. schools, churches, or townhalls, that need to be set up for purpose and afterwards may serve a larger number of beneficiaries per day, and temporary PoDs in the form of trucks or tents that can be located at any open space (parks, or parking lots) that serve fewer beneficiaries per day but require no prior installation. Balancing the use of the two seems an effective way to respond to urban crises.

    Furthermore, in humanitarian crises, the situation is often unclear at the beginning of the planning phase so that the way the crisis will unfold cannot be predicted accurately but several scenarios are possible. Stochastic programs allow decision-makers to consider uncertainty in a mathematical program. The objective of this Master's thesis is to advance an already existing mathematical program for the PoD installation planning in urban areas to a multi-period, two-stage mathematical programming model. Thereby, the multi-period set-up plan for the permanent PoDs shall be the first-stage decision and the decision where to add temporary PoDs is a second-stage recourse decision.

    Requirements

    The topic requires advancing an already existing mathematical program to account for an additional real-life aspect of a humanitarian relief network. There is case study data available for a catastrophe in Berlin, Germany, and the model should be tested and evaluated based on this case study. Depending on the model extension heuristic methods may be needed to solve the model.