Cyber Enabled Discovery System for Advanced Multidisciplinary Study of Humanitarian Logistics for Disaster Response

Posted in Humanitarian Logistics, Network Modeling

Project Status



This project is concerned with the development of an integrative “Cyber Enabled Discovery System for Advanced Multidisciplinary Study of Humanitarian Logistics for Disaster Response.” As part of the work, transportation, computer, mathematical, and social scientists will collaborate to:

  1. create new paradigms of humanitarian logistic (HL) models that explicitly consider two key aspects not studied by current techniques: deprivation costs (DC), and material convergence (MC);
  2. develop appropriate models to represent human suffering as a DC;
  3. explicitly consider DC in the key HL decision models;
  4. develop analytical models to quantify/influence the amount, type, and arrival patterns of donations;
  5. gain insight into the links between media framing of needs and MC;
  6. define mechanisms to modify donor behavior; and,
  7. develop algorithms and heuristics to solve the formulations developed.

Primary Contact(s)

Jose Holguin-Veras and Tricia Wachtendorf


Goal 1:

To develop a new generation of computable HL models capable of explicitly considering the impacts of delivery actions on DCs, and able to integrate the real time estimates of MC produced by the cyber enabled discovery system in the definition of proper control procedures.

Goal 2:

To predict—on the basis of real (or quasi) time analysis of media reports—the flow of goods to the disaster site. Predictions would integrate all media data (e.g., news, websites, social networks), and a predictive model based on responses to previous similar disasters.

Goal 3:

To qualitatively and quantitatively explain the relationship between media framing of needs and MC, and suggest response strategies to better react/influence, media-driven MC.

Key Tasks

  1. Incorporation of DC in HL models
  2. Identification of the linkages between media framing and MC, both qualitatively and quantitatively
  3. Development of cyber tools to estimate donation amounts, types, and arrival patterns
  4. Definition of control procedures to influence donation behavior
  5. Integration of MC estimates and DC into HL
  6. Conceptual validation of the models
  7. Educational activities/Outreach to practitioners/Curricular changes


The project will be managed by Professor Holguín-Veras at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Professor Tricia Wachtendorf at the University of Delaware.

Additional Partners: Professor John Mitchell, RPI; Professor Malik Magdon-Ismail, RPI; Professor Sanmay Das, Virginia Polytechnic Institute





Sponsors / Funding Sources


Publications from this Project

Holguín-Veras, J., M. Jaller, N. Perez, L. Van Wassenhove and T. Wachtendorf (2012) On the Unique Features of Humanitarian Logistics. Journal of Operations Management (JOM). DOI: 10.1016/j.jom.2012.08.003, 30(7-8):494-506.
Holguín-Veras, J., M. Jaller, and T. Wachtendorf (2012) Comparative Performance of Alternative Humanitarian Logistic Structures after the Port au Prince Earthquake: ACEs, PIEs, and CANs. Journal of Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice. DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2012.08.002, 46(10): 1623-1640.
Holguín-Veras, J., E. Taniguchi, F. Ferreira, M. Jaller and R. Thompson (2012) The Tohoku Disasters: Chief Findings Concerning the Post Disaster Humanitarian Logistics Response. In review at the Journal of Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review.
Poster Presentation at:

  • Transportation Research Board 91st Annual Meeting, Washington D.C.
  • National Science Foundation’s Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) 2012 Conference. Boston, MA.

Jaller, M. and J. Holguín-Veras (2012) Resource Allocation Model for Dynamic Control of Material Convergence after Disasters. Transportation Science. (in review)
Jaller, M. and J. Holguín-Veras (2012) Locating Points of Distribution Location in Large Urban Disasters. Transportation Science. (in review)

Holguín-Veras, J., M. Jaller, and N. Perez. “The Hard Lessons from Haiti and Japan for Humanitarian Logistics”

  • Presentation at the 2013 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Presentation at the 2nd Workshop on Humanitarian Logistics. Escola Politécnica, University of São Paulo, Dept. of Industrial Engineering. Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Presentation at the 24th Production and Operations Management Conference (POMs), Denver, CO.
  • Presentation at the World Conference of Transportation Research WCTR 2013, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Poster presentation at the Transportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting, Washington D.C.

Holguín-Veras,J., M. Jaller, Van Wassenhove, L. N. Perez, and T. Wachtendorf (2012). Material Convergence: An important and Understudied Disaster Phenomenon. Natural Hazards Review, 10.1061/(ASCE)NH.1527-6996.0000113.

  • Presentation at the 24th Production and Operations Management Conference (POMs), Denver, CO.

Holguín-Veras, J., M. Jaller and T. Wachtendorf (2013). “Improving Post-Disaster Humanitarian Logistics: Three Key Lessons from Catastrophic Events.”  TR-News July-August 2013.
Holguín-Veras,J., N. Perez, M. Jaller, L.Van Wassenhove, and F. Aros-Vera (2013). On the appropriate objective function for post-disaster humanitarian logistics models. Journal of Operations Management. 31, 262-280.

  • Presentation at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN.

Holguín-Veras,J., M. Jaller, E. Taniguchi, and F. Aros-Vera (2013). The Lessons from Catastrophic Events for Post-disaster Humanitarian Logistics Efforts: The Port Au Prince Earthquake and the Tohoku Disasters. Transportation Research Record (In Print)
Book Chapter:
Holguín-Veras, J., T. Wachtendorf, M., Jaller and T. Jefferson (Forthcoming 2013) Logistics and the Management of Critical Supplies following Catastrophes. Preparedness and Response to Catastrophic Disasters.  Rick Bissell, ed.  2012: CRC Press. (Boca Raton, FL)
Awards this project has received:
Links to external press / media pages:
Japan’s 1,000-year-old warning. Article published by the PI in the Los Angeles Times.