Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cornell efficiency experts seek to save precious minutes in deploying ambulances

19.06.2008
Every extra second it takes an ambulance to get to its destination can mean life or death. But how, besides driving faster, can ambulances get emergency services to people in need as efficiently as possible, every day? It's a classic operations research question that three Cornell researchers are tackling in groundbreaking ways.

A National Science Foundation grant of almost $300,000 is allowing associate professor of operations research Shane Henderson, assistant professor of operations research Huseyin Topaloglu and applied mathematics Ph.D. student Mateo Restrepo to work on this problem. They are seeking to perfect a computer program that estimates how best to spread ambulances across a municipality to get maximum coverage at all times.

The researchers are working on a computerized approach to take such available information as historical trends of types and incidences of calls, geographical layout and real-time locations of ambulances to figure out where ambulance bases should be, and where ambulances should be sent once finished with a call.

The whole process is not unlike the puzzle game Tetris, Restrepo said. The easy part is knowing what an ideal system should look like. The hard part is anticipating various outcomes in a limited period of time, like the falling blocks in the video game.

Using their program, the researchers are recommending that ambulance organizations break the traditional setup of assigning ambulance crews to various bases and sending them back to their assigned locations once finished with a call.

Going back to base isn't necessarily the best option for maximum efficiency, say the operations researchers. It might be better to redeploy an idle ambulance to where coverage is lacking, even though no calls have yet been placed there.

"If everyone is constantly going back to the base assigned, they're ignoring what's going on in real time in the system," Henderson explained.

The concept is easy enough, but the solution is tricky, especially because of the enormous amount of uncertainty involved.

The field of operations research that deals with making decisions over time in the face of uncertainty is called dynamic programming, in which Topaloglu is an expert. The key is coming up with what's called a value function, a mathematical construction that estimates the impact of a current decision on the future evolution of the system. In this case, it's the impact of current ambulance locations on the number of future calls that are served on time.

"When you're trying to make a decision, you have to select the locations of your ambulances so the performance predicted by the value function is as good as possible," Topaloglu explained. "But it turns out that computing that function is very difficult, especially if you're talking about the scale of the problem we're trying to solve."

Henderson has more than 10 years of experience working on such problems, using a technique called simulation optimization, which is modeling different scenarios of what could happen in any given industrial system.

He and a colleague have already commercialized an earlier generation of emergency medical system planning, which now forms the basis for the technology used by the New Zealand ambulance company Optima.

Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano
20.10.2017 | Brown University

nachricht New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>