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!
Research on light-matter interaction could improve electronic and optoelectronic devices
11.10.2018 | Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Unique Deep Learning Infrastructure - DFKI receives first NVIDIA DGX-2 supercomputer in Europe
11.10.2018 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.
Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
17.10.2018 | Event News
16.10.2018 | Event News
02.10.2018 | Event News
17.10.2018 | Trade Fair News
17.10.2018 | Life Sciences
17.10.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science