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Health Systems Optimization

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Marathon - Using Operations Research to Advance Public Safety, Security, and Participant Experience at Mass Events

Karen Smilowitz, Sanjay Mehrotra, Jennifer Chan, George Chiampas, Mike Nishi

This project brings together engineering and medical faculty at Northwestern University and the organizers of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon to the use of Operations Research to advance public safety, security, and participant experience at mass events, with a particular focus on course design for marathons. Course design decisions are related to the marathon route to be followed and the locations of aid stations, medical tents and volunteers on the course. Multi-objective models and solution approaches will be developed for course design, coupled with data analytics and field observations to identify a safe and medically accessible course while simultaneously enhancing runner and community experience. The research plan is based on active integration across the areas of modeling, algorithms, data analysis and decision maker engagement. This project provides a test bed to advance the science and practice of mass event planning and preparedness, through repeated field observations at the Chicago Marathon, conducted by faculty, students, and practitioners. This collaboration represents a unique application of operations research that will expose students to a new breed of planning problems.

Last Mile Health - Operations Research for Community Health in Remote Liberia

Northwestern researchers have developed tools to assist with the design of a community health care network in order to increase health coverage for remote regions of Liberia, partnering with Last Mile Health, a non-governmental organization that brings health care to remote communities in Liberia. In order to service remote communities, LMH trains community healthcare workers to prevent, diagnose, and treat the most common diseases in Liberia. This collaboration aims to improve the distribution of healthcare workers in complex environments. We examine geographic, economic, and cultural aspects of Liberian communities to develop practical maps and models. For example, we have evaluated how distance and terrain impact the regularity of CHW supervision. We have created detailed maps--seeing that the road networks in Liberia’s remote areas are typically unmapped or poorly — mapped as well as models that explore how to best distribute personnel given such physical challenges.

Mobile and Connected Health