TU Delft offers various opportunities for students to incorporate elements of humanitarian aid and disaster response research into their education.
Information diffusion in complex emergencies: A model-based evaluation of information sharing strategies
In an emergency, humanitarian organisations share information to prevent redundant data collection and avoid gaps and overlap in the relief activities that they undertake. An analysis of hygiene kit distribution in the Bangladesh-Myanmar displacement crisis and consultation of both literature and humanitarian professionals led to the construction of a model on information diffusion in complex emergencies. This model proved to be able to evaluate strategies that have a level of complexity that could not be apprehended by existing models. Experimentation with this model leads to the conclusion that a locally sourced team, with an outward focused organisation that produces near real-time information products, is most effective in diffusing information.
The role of data and information sharing when slow-onset natural disasters and conflict collide
The frequency and severity of natural disasters is increasing worldwide, leading to a growing number of people struggling to survive. While climate related natural disasters affect large portions of the world, communities who are already struggling to survive due to conflict, insecurity or poverty are hit the most. In fragile states, slowly unfolding natural disasters are getting more and more intertwined with conflict. In these areas, humanitarian and peacekeeping organizations have increasingly overlapping goals and scarce resources. Sharing information between humanitarian and peacekeeping organizations can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of both humanitarian response operations and peacekeeping missions, which may result in not only saving time and money but most importantly saving lives and reducing human suffering. Nevertheless, the process of information sharing between humanitarian and peacekeeping organizations is not common practice. This is a comprehensive study on the complexities of information sharing between humanitarian and peacekeeping organizations in fragile areas. It includes desk research, interviewing, modeling approaches and a qualitative case study on Mopti, Mali where the Red Cross Movement is actively fighting food insecurity and Dutch peacekeepers are contributing to the UN peacekeeping mission called MINUSMA.
Laurens de Kok
Information-sharing in humanitarian operations in complex disasters: Using Agent-Based modelling to identify policies for improved performance
This research has aimed at identifying critical factors in decision-making for humanitarian operation in slow-onset man-made conflict situations. This has been done by developing an Agent-Based model on the basis of the humanitarian program cycle. Working with the model, four policies and four scenarios have been developed. Analyzing the model behavior of those policies and scenarios a number of key factors for decision making are derived.
Deep Uncertainty in Humanitarian Logistics: Simulation and Analysis of the Interplay between Decisions and Uncertainty for Post-Disaster Facility Location Decisions
Humanitarian response to disasters is challenging, because of the time pressure involved and the lack of reliable information. Therefore, decisions in disaster situations must be made while coping with collective stress and deep uncertainty. Important logistics decisions made under deep uncertainty, such as deciding on the locations of central logistics hubs, can reduce the uncertainty in the surrounding areas because they can enable better access to reliable information. This creates an interaction between decisions and uncertainty: decisions made under deep uncertainty cause a change of uncertainty for future decisions.
Forecast-driven scenario-based robust optimization model for pre-positioning relief goods in preparation for strong typhoons
Weather forecast agencies periodically provide information on potential typhoon behaviour from its formation to dissipation. This information can be used to pre-position relief goods in areas that are potentially affected by a strong incoming typhoon. The uncertainty of the typhoon behaviour with respect to a point location decreases over time, thus showing the trade-off between forecast accuracy and lead time available for pre-positioning. This thesis paper presents a forecast-driven model for pre-positioning over large networks where lead time available for pre-positioning at each location can differ. By periodically generating damage scenarios based on new forecast data and eliciting the strategic preference of the decision maker, the model determines where, when, and how much relief goods to pre-position. The model is implemented in a case study to design the pre-positioning actions in anticipation of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Increasing situational awareness in the golden period of the response phase of sudden-onset disasters by mapping community reachability
In the response phase of sudden-onset natural disasters, information is of crucial importance for relief organisations and their aid workers. Information is necessary for gaining situational awareness in a disaster for effective decision-making in response operations. In my research, an information system is designed that maps the reachability of affected communities in a disaster-struck area, in terms of their connectedness to relief efforts by aid workers. This reachability model can be deployed rapidly and offers aid workers a situational overview in the first moments of the response, giving them relevant information to base their day-to-day decision on. The reachability model is built in Python, using graph theory and OpenStreetMap. The Papua New Guinea earthquake of February 2018 and hurricane Irma on St. Maarten are used as case-studies to evaluate the feasibility of the reachability model. The conclusion of the research is that the reachability model is both technically and practically feasible and that it improves situational awareness for aid workers and therewith improve the effectiveness of relief operations during the response phase of sudden-onset natural disasters.
Resilient airport in the immediate post disaster response
Airports are a special critical infrastructure in a disaster response from a resilience point of view. They must overcome two types of shocks when they are affected by a disaster. They are not only hit by a disaster, which decreases their performances. Airports also need to act as a humanitarian and logistic hub for the disaster response which leads to an influx of aircraft. This influx requires the airport to increase their normal performance. In this research a mesoscopic model is built to compare different policies that can improve the resilience of the operations of airports during the immediate post disaster response. How should airport services be improved to be more resilient during the immediate post disaster response? To compare the effect of the policies on the level of resilience of the system, this study proposes a new resilient measurement approach that incorporates the bounce back and bounce up capacity of a system. This approach divides resilience into three aspects (1) absorption capacity, (2) adaptive capacity and (3) recovery time. This resilience measurement approach can be used when a system has the following two characteristics: (1) dynamic required service levels over time and (2) internal system changes.
HumTech Thesis Circle Update
The HumTech Lab is working with a group of TU Delft students interested in writing their master’s thesis projects about humanitarian aid and disaster response. In particular, students are finding innovative ways to improve the efficiency of humanitarian aid delivery by focusing on the role of airports. The logistics and coordination role of airports is often inhibited by the fragile infrastructure of the countries that receive humanitarian aid. As such, the airports are faced with an overwhelming load on their infrastructure, systems and operations. Students meet with HumTech advisors monthly, who provide topic feedback, lessons from field experience, and connections with industry partners.