New Audio Available for Media Use: Advanced Strategies for Hurricane Preparedness


Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator

New Audio Available for Media Use: Advanced Strategies for Hurricane Preparedness

BALTIMORE, MD, May 12, 2022 – New audio is available for media use featuring Halit Uster. He is a Professor in Operations Research and Engineering Management at Southern Methodist University. He focuses his research on disaster preparedness. This content is made available by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. All sound should be attributed to Halit Uster. What follows are 4 questions and responses. These responses were provided on May 11, 2022.



Question 1: What are the major issues that must be considered when it comes to hurricane preparedness? 

Time Cue: 0:21, Soundbite Duration: 0:42

“I like to think about hurricane preparedness as having two main parts: First, on the demand side, there needs to be well-laid out evacuation plans that also consider different types of population in the affected region. And the second, there needs to be a sound plan to pre-position and mobilize relief supply, also taking into account supply donations. Now, it is crucial that we recognize that these two parts are closely related as they are components of one system, rather than being two independent activities, and that they require close communication and coordination among the stakeholders for their effective planning.”


Question 2: Why aren’t more hurricane-prone regions better prepared for hurricane season?

Time Cue: 01:14, Soundbite Duration: 0:40

”There has been a lot of effort put into preparation in the last couple of decades, really since Katrina. There is still significant need for improved communication and coordination to take place prior to an expected landfall. This is equally important to take place between the officials on the evacuation and relief side decisions as well as between them and the affected population. That is, with a systems view, all stakeholders should be involved in the effort. It is not enough to tell the affected population to evacuate at the (hopefully) right time and mobilize supply at the same time as an independent process.”


Question 3: You were recently awarded a three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $315,580 to investigate integrated evacuation planning and disaster preparedness models. These models will offer relief to evacuees in a more robust, predictive, timely and cost-effective manner than was seen in past natural disasters. How will the models work?

Time Cue: 02:05, Soundbite Duration: 0:48

“In our study, we build optimization and simulation models to help guide decisions on the demand and supply sides in an integrated fashion while taking into account various uncertainties inherent in these events. To this end, we bring together predictive analytics (e.g., past data on evacuee behavior) and prescriptive analytics for decisions such as when- and where-to-evacuate, how-to-get there on the demand side and what- and where-to-stock relief supplies, how-to-mobilize them i.e., when- and where-to-send supplies and how much along with coordination of supply donations. These are large scale optimization models that utilize reported data from the field.”


Question 4: What do you hope the models will accomplish? 

Time Cue: 03:16, Soundbite Duration: 0:53

“This study will help to support decision-making both in the strategic sense and tactical/operational sense. With a systems view for preparedness planning, the optimization models and algorithms developed will not only inform effective and efficient planning efforts but will also be utilized to identify and quantify the benefits of integration (e.g., reducing the uncertainty that the relief supply planning currently faces). While accompanying simulation models will be instrumental in validation, they will be especially important to also communicate the results to all stakeholders including officials making and managing evacuation decisions, officials planning and managing relief supply efforts as well as potential evacuees.”


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With more than 12,000 members from around the world, INFORMS is the largest association for the decision and data sciences, made up of professionals and students. INFORMS members support organizations and governments at all levels as they work to transform data into information, and information into insights that lead to more efficient, effective, equitable and impactful results.




Ashley Smith