Technology & Innovation

Thursday 25.11. at 15:30-16:45
Tina Comes, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Humanitarian assistance in G5 Sahel: macro-logistics and technological potential

Adam Płachciak, Wroclaw University of Economics and Business, Poland
Jakub Marcinkowski, Wroclaw University of Economics and Business, Poland
Damian Kedziora, HUMLOG Institute at Hanken School Economics, Finland


The G5 Sahel works in collaboration with various international organizations and countries, which are responsible for managing logistics activities, financial flows and security solutions. Humanitarian assistance holds critically important role in the region, despite its multiple challenges and limitations in macroeconomic and technological development. The main aim of the article is to examine macroeconomic potential of logistics activities in humanitarian assistance and protection, on the national and transnational level, allowing for the successful use of technology in humanitarian aid. The key drivers of humanitarian emergencies in the region stem from conflicts, food insecurity, and malnutrition. Sahel countries require a wide range of activities to minimize negative effects of climate change and natural disasters. The state of logistics infrastructure, wide range of natural and man-made disasters, as well as macroeconomic situation of G5 Sahel result in common problems with the organizing of humanitarian logistics from the national and transboundary perspective. Based on the selected indicators, identified problems of humanitarian assistance and protection in the G5 Sahel suggest that the above-mentioned potential of logistics activities require tightening of trans-national collaboration, that shall further allow for wider implementations of technologies to improve humanitarian aid with innovative solutions.

Simulation-based Experiment of Physical Internet concepts applied to the Humanitarian Supply Chains context

Manon Grest,IMT Mines Albi, France
Matthieu Lauras, IMT Mines Albi, France
Benoit Montreuil, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States

Supply chain
Physical Internet
Experiment plan

Natural disasters are one of the biggest challenges of humanity and impact many people. The response coverage and response speed capabilities are very important aspects of humanitarian response in assisting victims. However, reaching the effectiveness and efficiency of such aspects are not straightforward to meet considering the difficult context and constantly evolving environment. A recent concept, namely the Physical Internet (PI), intends to help in facing various logistics and supply chains challenges by designing a new way for objects to be moved, supplied, designed, and used in the perspective to make logistics and supply chains more efficient, sustainable, smart, agile, adaptable, scalable. Given the issues faced by HOs to fulfil the relief needs of beneficiaries, the PI approach seems an appropriate solution to help in improving relief performance. By taking advantage of this concept, this research tries to both measure and improve the response coverage and response speed capabilities of humanitarian organizations. Using a mix agent-based and discrete events simulation, the assessment is made possible by comparing a reference organizational system (build upon an Indonesian Red Cross case study) with alternatives including different degrees of PI maturity. These scenarios test the introduction of new PI oriented operation rules at the sourcing, shortage, and transport management on the performance. Basically, in the context considered, results show a lead time reduction in serving the total relief item demand while serving more people over time than the baseline. These results are one of the first and additional investigations including other core PI concepts such as the shared warehouse principle or even the use of modular containers for the experiment could also be considered to complete assessing the interest of PI to the humanitarian sector.

Bi-objective TSP with multiple drones for post-disaster rapid damage assessment

Najmesadat Nazemi, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
Sophie N. Parragh, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
Pamela C. Nolz, St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, Austria

Humanitarian logistics
Damage assessment
Traveling Salesman
Bi-objective optimization

Rapid and accurate post-disaster damage assessment is critical for humanitarian organizations to plan an effective and efficient disaster relief response. A prior investigation in the affected areas helps humanitarian organizations to be more prepared financially and operationally. On the one hand, the assessment should be performed as fast as possible due to the limited assessment horizon. On the other hand, since visiting all the affected nodes within a limited time may not be possible, the larger explored area of the affected region provides more accurate data for further relief operations. To this end, we consider a case when a truck and drones collaborate to improve the assessment operations exploiting the benefits of using both drone and truck in a sudden-onset disaster setting. In this study, we propose a scenario-based two-stage bi-objective variant of the traveling salesman problem with multiple drones (TSP-MD). The first objective aims at maximizing the number of assessed nodes given their priority scores, whereas the second objective minimizes the assessment completion time. Taking into account the transportation network conditions in a disaster setting as well as the uncertain wind conditions, we consider the truck travel time and the drone travel time as the uncertain parameters. We study the performance of the model for different levels of risk (e.g., expected value and worst-case) to deal with the uncertainties. To solve the proposed models efficiently, we develop a Benders decomposition-based approach. We conduct numerical studies on a set of test instances to evaluate the performance of the proposed approach.

Open Humanitarian Innovation: An Analysis of Decision-makers’ Intention to Adopt External Innovations at Crisis-Response Level

Shtefi Mladenovska, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Open innovation
Humanitarian innovation
Innovation adoption

In the mid-1980s, a radical change in the business model associated with humanitarian food assistance was proposed: provide cash to people in emergencies as an alternative (or in addition) to the distribution of food and non-food items. Because of strong resistance to innovations coming from outside, it took nearly 30 years for this idea to move from experimentation to full adoption by major humanitarian organizations. Today, cash-based assistance is one of the most powerful tools available to humanitarian organizations to channel funding to affected people and meet their needs more accurately. Compared to the mid-1980s, humanitarian organizations are today increasingly engaged with different modes of open innovation, allowing for knowledge flows in and out of their organizations. However, the pathway of many newly developed innovations seems not to have changed. In fact, the number of innovations widely adopted and deployed at scale, thereby affecting big populations and meeting needs in different environments, is very small. Even the most promising humanitarian innovations whose benefits have been undoubtedly shown are failing as they are not adopted by others in the sector. As there is little to no empirical evidence that explains this phenomenon, this study will employ a mixed-methods research design, with a qualitative study preceding a quantitative one. The study derives its relevance primarily from its numerous practical implications and is expected to contribute to the academic work on open and humanitarian innovation in a variety of ways.