Scientist looks for better ways to route relief supplies to disaster sites like Haiti

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Washington, January 16 (ANI): In a new research, a scientist is looking for better ways to route relief supplies to disaster areas like Haiti.

The earthquake that leveled much of Haiti and its capital, Port-au-Prince, is drawing attention to the difficulty of providing relief services in a place where roads, ports and airports are all but destroyed.

Now, Ann Campbell, a professor of management sciences in the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business, is finding more efficient methods for governments, agencies and businesses to transport relief supplies to disaster areas like the disaster struck Haiti.

For the research, Campbell is using tools like vehicle routing, which uses mathematical modeling and high-powered computing to develop quicker, more efficient ways to move something from one place to another.

Most of her research is aimed at helping businesses build supply chains that reduce transportation costs and increases profits.

But, few transportation logistics problems are as challenging as disaster logistics, which deal in many more unknown factors and turns the objective of supply chain management-maximizing profit-on its head.

"Commercial supply chains are focused on quality and profitability," said Campbell.

"Humanitarian supply chains are focused on minimizing loss of life and suffering, and distribution is focused on equity and fairness much more than in commercial applications," she added.ampbell started studying disaster logistics after the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami in 2004 wiped out a portion of Aceh Island and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

She said that the Haiti earthquake has its own set of issues.

"The lack of supplies in Haiti combined with its inaccessibility make a recipe for a very difficult situation that is very different from the planning done in the US for hurricanes and other disasters," she said.

One element of disaster logistics that Campbell and others are studying is where to locate pre-positioned supply depots in advance of a storm.

"If you put them too close to the Gulf they might be destroyed by the storm, so you have to put them someplace that's far enough away to be safe but no so far that it takes too long to get the supplies to the people who need them," she said. (ANI)

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