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Model copes with chaos to deliver relief

Computer program helps responders transport supplies in tough conditions

2:45pm, February 21, 2011

WASHINGTON — Getting blood or other perishable supplies to an area that’s been struck by an earthquake or hurricane isn’t as simple as asking what brown can do for you. But a new model quickly determines the best routes and means for delivering humanitarian aid, even in situations where bridges are out or airport tarmacs are clogged with planes.

The research, presented February 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, could help get supplies to areas that have experienced natural disasters or help prepare for efficient distribution of vaccines when the flu hits.

Efficient supply chains have long been a goal of manufacturers, but transport in fragile networks — where supply, demand and delivery routes may be in extremely rapid flux — requires a different approach, said Anna Nagurney of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who presented the new work. Rather than considering the shortest path

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