Evaluating the Effectiveness of Pre-Positioning Policies in Response to Natural Disasters

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Pre-Positioning Policies in Response to Natural Disasters

Jarrett Chapman, Lauren B. Davis, Funda Samanlioglu, Xiuli Qu
DOI: 10.4018/ijoris.2014040105
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Recent natural disasters highlight the complexities associated with planning, coordination and distribution of supplies in a manner which provides timely and effective response. In this paper, the authors present a model to quantify the benefits associated with pre-positioning local supplies. They assume the supplies are in a high-risk location and may be destroyed if an appropriate strategy to protect the supplies is not implemented. A stochastic linear programming model is developed where the first-stage decision pre-positions existing supplies to minimize the supply loss. Second-stage decisions attempt to maximize the responsiveness of the system by allocating supplies to satisfy demand. The benefits associated with pre-positioning versus non-pre-positioning are discussed.
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Emergency response in large scale, catastrophic events is an emerging area of research in the operations research and management science community. Much of the interest has been sparked by frequently occurring natural disasters, most notably hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tsunami induced floods in India, and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York. Furthermore, logistical failures caused by insufficient planning and inadequate resources are often highly publicized in media outlets. Obtaining sufficient supplies and coordinating the distribution of those supplies can be a significant challenge during the response effort. In this paper, we propose a model to address this supply and demand coordination problem, as it relates to pre-positioning local supplies. While pre-positioning is not a new concept, as the military has used this for quite some time (Johnstone, Hill 7 Moore, 2004), it is becoming more realizable that pre-positioning is an effective strategy when planning response to natural or man-made disasters. Before the landfall of hurricane Katrina, the federal government implemented methods for pre-positioning supplies which were described as the “largest pre-positioning of Federal assets in history” (Townsend, 2006). The gulf coast states also initiated local efforts to pre-position responders and identify shelters in preparation for the storm. In general, pre-positioning is an activity which is performed prior to the event, in which locations are selected to store human or material assets in preparation for a future need. The pre-positioned supplies are subsequently used to satisfy the demand post-event. The model presented in this paper identifies a least-cost strategy associated with pre-positioning existing supplies that may be in a high risk path for a particular event.

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