HHL Center co-director Dr. Ozlem Ergun discusses post-disaster debris management planning

Posted November 22, 2013 | Atlanta, GA

About a month prior to the devastating typhoon in the Philippines, Dr. Özlem Ergun spoke at Northwestern to the Industrial Engineering and Management Science department as part of the Humanitarian and Nonprofit Logistics Initiative. Ergun’s talk focused on her work in disaster operations, particularly in debris management, and the necessary timeline and collaboration that must takes place for effective debris removal operations.

As aid delivery after a disaster depends on open and navigable transportation routes and procurement strategies, a lack of adequate planning for how to remove the debris most quickly and effectively often results in blocked roads and supply bottlenecks, and in such time sensitive circumstances, delays of much-needed supplies can lead to further lives lost. In her presentation at Northwestern, Ergun described her team’s network design model for debris clearance in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and the possibility of significantly reducing the time and resources it would take to remove debris using an improved management model.  In a review of Ergun's presentation, Sachin Waikar highlights the challenges and opportunities for improved debris removal operations and the importance Ergun assisgns to planning these operations in advance of coming disasters for more effective relief and to save lives.