A multi-organisational approach for disaster preparedness and response: the use of optimisation and GIS for facility location, stock pre-positioning, resource allocation and relief distribution

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

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Oscar Rodríguez-Espíndola


From 1992 to 2012 4.4 billion people were affected by disasters with almost 2 trillion USD in damages and 1.3 million people killed worldwide. The increasing threat of disasters stresses the need to provide solutions for the challenges faced by disaster managers, such as the logistical deployment of resources required to provide relief to victims. The location of emergency facilities, stock prepositioning, evacuation, inventory management, resource allocation, and relief distribution have been identified to directly impact the relief provided to victims during the disaster. Managing appropriately these factors is critical to reduce suffering. Disaster management commonly attracts several organisations working alongside each other and sharing resources to cope with the emergency. Coordinating these agencies is a complex task but there is little research considering multiple organisations, and none actually optimising the number of actors required to avoid shortages and convergence.
The aim of the this research is to develop a system for disaster management based on a combination of optimisation techniques and geographical information systems (GIS) to aid multi-organisational decision-making. An integrated decision system was created comprising a cartographic model implemented in GIS to discard floodable facilities, combined with two models focused on optimising the decisions regarding location of emergency facilities, stock prepositioning, the allocation of resources and relief distribution, along with the number of actors required to perform these activities.
Three in-depth case studies in Mexico were studied gathering information from different organisations. The cartographic model proved to reduce the risk to select unsuitable facilities. The preparedness and response models showed the capacity to optimise the decisions and the number of organisations required for logistical activities, pointing towards an excess of actors involved in all cases. The system as a whole demonstrated its capacity to provide integrated support for disaster preparedness and response, along with the existence of room for improvement for Mexican organisations in flood management.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date24 Mar 2016


  • disaster management , multi-objective optimisation, GIS, floods, coordination and collaboration


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