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 Chip-based devices improve practicality of quantum-secured communication
23.03.2020 | The Optical Society

nachricht Army scientists create quantum sensor that covers entire radio frequency spectrum
20.03.2020 | U.S. Army Research Laboratory

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Junior scientists at the University of Rostock invent a funnel for light

Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.

The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.

Im Focus: Stem Cells and Nerves Interact in Tissue Regeneration and Cancer Progression

Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumour innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies.

Stem cells can generate a variety of specific tissues and are increasingly used for clinical applications such as the replacement of bone or cartilage....

Im Focus: Artificial solid fog material creates pleasant laser light

An international research team led by Kiel University develops an extremely porous material made of "white graphene" for new laser light applications

With a porosity of 99.99 %, it consists practically only of air, making it one of the lightest materials in the world: Aerobornitride is the name of the...

Im Focus: Cross-technology communication in the Internet of Things significantly simplified

Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a framework by which wireless devices with different radio technologies will be able to communicate directly with each other.

Whether networked vehicles that warn of traffic jams in real time, household appliances that can be operated remotely, "wearables" that monitor physical...

Im Focus: Peppered with gold

Research team presents novel transmitter for terahertz waves

Terahertz waves are becoming ever more important in science and technology. They enable us to unravel the properties of future materials, test the quality of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020” takes place over the internet

26.03.2020 | Event News

Most significant international Learning Analytics conference will take place – fully online

23.03.2020 | Event News

MOC2020: Fraunhofer IOF organises international micro-optics conference in Jena

03.03.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

3D printer sensors could make breath tests for diabetes possible

27.03.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

TU Bergakademie Freiberg researches virus inhibitors from the sea

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

The Venus flytrap effect: new study shows progress in immune proteins research

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>