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Integration of real-time mapping technology in disaster relief distribution.
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    Vehicle routing for disaster relief distribution involves many challenges that distinguish this problem from those in commercial settings, given the time sensitive and resource constrained nature of relief activities. While operations research approaches can improve the effectiveness of relief routing, these challenges must be addressed in routing models in order to realize the potential of the approaches. There have been many promising advances in the literature on relief routing, and aid organizations have been collaborating with academic researchers to increase the practicality of such models. In- creases in the availability and use of information technology in the wake of disasters can further the effectiveness of routing models for aid distribution. Currently, challenges still remain to make routing models more applicable to humanitarian assistance delivery and more integrated with new streams of imagery, mapping, and crowdsourced real-time data. This project focuses on dynamic routing models for the distribution of relief supplies and services in humanitarian settings. We focus on the potential to improve these models, and thus improve the effectiveness of humanitarian relief, by using new applications of mapping technologies and real-time information to mitigate the effects of dynamic changes during humanitarian crises and disasters and the significant uncertainty that exists in these settings. Our work evaluates the improvements from these technologies for relief organizations in the field and develops a set of test cases for the research community to better design and test their routing models and solution approaches. In the present work, we take urban search and rescue operations as our study case, while maintaining a focus on generalizability to other post-disaster operations. To facilitate wide implementation and potential commercialization of our work, a developed test case is available online to practitioners and academicians, through a server dedicated to Humanitarian and Non-Profit Logistics at Northwestern University.

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