Projects

Ebola training and supplies for hospitals in Liberia

Erin Hasselberg, Jarrod Goentzel
Partner: Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia 

In the wake of the 2014 Ebola Virus emergency in West Africa, a consortium led by the University of Massachusetts Medical School received a grant from Paul G. Allen, as part of the #TackleEbola initiative, to increase its support to build capacity for the Liberian hospital system.

 

Ebola PPE Standards

Emily Gooding, Marianne Jahre
Partner: Avenir Analytics, Boston Children's Hopsital

The recent Ebola outbreak in Liberia prompted a vast international response from various governments, NGOs, and UN organizations. This ad-hoc effort was confronted with a significant challenge when required to coordinate the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for response. The Ebola PPE Standards Project tracks the evolution and dissemination of PPE standards throughout the Ebola crisis in Liberia, and identifies ways in which the standardization of medical response equipment can be improved for future outbreaks.

 

Models and Metrics for Humanitarian Response Capacity

Jason Acimovic, Jarrod Goentzel
Partners: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD), US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Many organizations stockpile inventory in strategic locations in order to respond quickly and cheaply to disasters. This project developed models and metrics that the humanitarian logistics community can utilize to coordinate preparedness efforts. The approach and initial results are described in a Journal of Operations Management article. The authors also monitor the quality of stockpiles stores in the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRDs) daily:

Summary dashboard
Depot dashboard

These results are intended to be illustrative, and are subject to the assumptions and approximations outlined in the article.  They are not intended to judge whether the UN or organizations using its UNHRDs are placing inventory optimally.

 

Post-harvest storage in Uganda

Mark Brennan, Tim Breitbach, Emily Gooding, Jennifer Green, Jonars Spielberg, MIT Comprehensive Initiative for Technology Evaluation (CITE) ​
Partners: United Nations World Food Program, USAID

The impact of smallholder farmers’ capabilities to store crops safely and effectively on communities and local and regional procurement efforts is relatively unexplored. This is especially true when considering the ecosystem that stretches from storage design and manufacturing to storage adoption and training. The MIT CITE team is studying this post-harvest storage and crop ecosystem in Uganda in collaboration with WFP, where the WFP is running a PHS pilot project with 16,000 farmers. The CITE team is analyzing two aspects of PHS: (1) the value that PHS creates for smallholder farmers and communities, and (2) the barriers to scale of PHS.

 


Previous Projects

Understanding the preferences of private sector supply chain agents in making decisions to stock rapid diagnostic tests for malaria

Corinne Carland, Erin Reissman, MIT Comprehensive Initiative for Technology Evaluation (CITE) 
Partners: Malaria Consortium, USAID

Scaling up the use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests is an important means to improve individual treatment and reduce the development of antimalarial resistance; however the devices are not widely available, especially in private sector outlets, where most individuals first seek care. This project aims to study the decision-making process, tradeoffs, and value preferences of agents in the private sector supply chain in deciding whether to sell and stock these products in order to scale up their use and access. 

 

Stochastic Modeling to Allocate and Assess Disaster Response Capacity in Logistics Networks

Lauren Seelbach
Partner: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Through case studies in Florida, Louisiana and with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, we will develop a framework for emergency management organizations to evaluate how well their critical commodity stockpiles will meet the needs of disaster survivors in the immediate aftermath of an event. It aims to answer the questions: 'what is the optimal allocation of resources across warehouse locations, and what is the cost/time associated with meeting demand given both the current and optimal allocation strategies' and 'what is the impact of private involvement through donations, contracts, and other arrangements'.  

 

Assessing Novel Data Sources for Post-Disaster Information Gathering

Lauren Seelbach
Partner: U.S. Department of Transportation, Idibon

In this project, we conducted an assessment of the ability of Twitter data to supplement traditional information-gathering processes to create actionable information about a transportation network in an emergency. The focus of the project was a case study analyzing Twitter activity during Hurricane Irene in 2011. The intent of the case study was to characterize the potential of big data from sensor networks to compliment existing sensor networks to create actionable information in a disaster, and to further develop methodologies to analyze these sources of data.

 

Water Filters in India

A Low-Income Country’s Homegrown Solution to Clean Water​
Erin Reissman
Partner: USAID

Safe water and improved sanitation are essential to human health and well being throughout the world. In India, only 33% of households treat their water, even though the water could be chemically or bacterially contaminated. In field work, a team found that the majority of the Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filter market consisted of locally assembled models. This case explores the supply chains behind these locally assembled models.

Evaluation of water filters in India
Corinne Carland, Tim Breitbach, Erin Reissman, Alay Patel, Shrikant Brahmbhatt
Partners: USAID, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad and Indian Insitute of Technology-Gandhinagar

The CITE team evaluated the scalability of water filter supply chains in cities in India.

 

Transportation Corridor Capacity in Ethiopia

Sujin Kim, Javed Singha
Partner: United Nations World Food Program

The WFP’s transport of food aid to Ethiopia’s landlocked population is constrained by supply chain bottlenecks at the port, and limited availability of trucks for inland transport.  How can the WFP supply chain be optimized to effectively operate within the given constraints?

 

Optimizing a WFP warehouse in Ethiopia

Gina Malaver, Colin Regnier
Partner: United Nations World Food Program

Analytic Hierarchy Process is a multiple attribute decision tool that provides structure to decisions where there is limited availability of quantitative information. This is applied to a WFP warehouse in Ethiopia.

 

Cost Drivers in Food Aid Transportation

Marie-Eve Rancourt, Jarrod Goentzel
Partner: United Nations World Food Program

How can WFP Ethiopia better manage third-party transportation carriers to improve service quality and reduce costs? This study uses an econometric analysis of historical transportation rates in Ethiopia to determine cost/service drivers and predictive parameters. We also develop indicators to measure carrier performance and create a tool to facilitate carrier selection.

Food Aid in Less Secure Regions

Vidya Chander, Lauren Shear
Partner: United Nations World Food Program

The World Food Programme has recently acquired the difficult task of transporting aid into the Somali region of Ethiopia.  The political instability, rebel activity, ethnic tensions, and poor infrastructure in the area endanger and delay the flow of commodities through the WFP’s supply chain. we measure the impact of insecurity in the WFP’s distribution system, study the current methods that the WFP employs to mitigate risks, and investigate possible precautionary technologies to improve security in this resource constrained environment. 

 

Human and Modeling Approaches to Transportation Planning in Emergency Response

Erica Gralla
Partner: UN Logistics Cluster, UN World Food Program

A key element missing from our understanding of humanitarian supply chains is the role of people, whose ability to improvise and to learn from experience may provide some advantages in the humanitarian context. On the other hand, mathematical models can better handle complex information and search large decision spaces. This project developed better decision-making approaches by understanding and building upon the strengths of people and models. This project focused on transportation planning for emergency response, from both a behavioral and a modeling perspective.

The research was conducted through active participation in several weeklong training events facilitated by the UN Logistics Cluster. During one phase of the simulated disaster response, used to train experienced humanitarian logisticians, participant teams must decide how to use its fleet of trucks and helicopters to deliver aid cargo to affected communities, considering efficiency and prioritization of needed cargo. A variety of methods were employed, including ethnographic observations, a stated preference survey, and modeling approaches, in order to determine how humans and models can interact to create better delivery plans. In addition to theoretical contributions, we developed practical tools for transportation planning, in cooperation with humanitarian organizations.

 

Private Supply Chain Disaster Response

Karn Budhiraj, Gabriel de la Torre

In times of disaster, demand for goods and services in affected areas spikes. Private companies generally have contingencies in place for business continuity; however, most lack a strategic approach to join the general population’s relief efforts. Why are some companies more effective within disaster relief supply chains than others? How can a company approach this area of opportunity?

 

Baseline measurements in Disaster Relief

Timothy Russell

By analyzing a survey from the Fritz Institute and KPMG which measured the response to the 2004 SE Asia earthquake and tsunami, this study concludes that while the relief effort was effective, there were deficiencies in the following areas: initial assessment, collaboration, trained logistics experts, and supply chain analysis.

 

Humanitarian Logistics Performance Measurement and Management

Ira Haavisto
Partner: International Rescue Committee

This initiative focuses on how humanitarian organizations can measure and manage the performance of supply chain & logistics processes. With the International Rescue Committee, we developed a resource toolkit for field logistics staff including simplified logistics process maps, checklists, and guidance on required internal controls. We now seek to extend this work by incorporating other humanitarian organizations.

 

Forecasting Demand for Partners in Health

Christine Heberley and Matthew Hoover
Partner: Partners in Health

This project develops a model using historical consumption data of Partners in Health’s medical supplies to forecast future demand. We compare PIH’s current annual order policy with ordering policies with more frequent reviews, and find that more frequent orders will drastically reduce warehouse space requirements for PIH.

 

Understanding Needs after the Haiti Earthquake

Student volunteers from MIT, Harvard, and Tufts
Partners: US Government, MIT Lincoln Laboratory and members of the humanitarian community

Worked collaboratively to develop a multi-sectoral humanitarian needs assessment. The HRL was part of a team that developed and deployed a four-month survey of internally displaced persons camps in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. The resulting data identified urgent needs -- such as camps with little access to shelter -- and showed how the needs of those in the camps changed over time