Dynamic Decision Support for Managing Regional Res

Dynamic Decision Support for Managing Regional Resources
FEMA 2012 Community Resilience Innovation Challenge
Center for Disaster Management, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

We are developing a dynamic decision support module that will enable emergency managers in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to increase efficiency in allocating, maintaining and updating equipment and personnel housed in three regional response centers. The centers, located in different sections of the County will house resources closer to neighborhoods and facilitate rapid mobilization of response operations in extreme events, reducing losses.

This project aims to increase the resiliency of 130 communities of Allegheny County, PA by providing dynamic decision support needed to manage the distributed system of equipment and supplies located at three regional centers to support emergency planning and response operations for this large urban/ suburban/rural county. The decision support system will identify interdependencies among the physical terrain, engineered systems, and social characteristics of County residents to determine who is at risk under what conditions and where, and what factors facilitate or hinder the rapid mobilization of response. We will capture the decision processes of experienced managers to identify possible strategies of action under varying conditions. Using expert judgment of these managers as parameters, we will develop a system dynamics model of the regional system to calculate likely consequences of potential strategies, given existing conditions in the County.

Systems modeling represents an innovative approach to identify interactive conditions that evolve in disaster environments. This approach enables emergency service chiefs to explore alternative strategies in training which will inform their decisions when actual events occur, and will link these strategies to other community organizations: Office of Allegheny County of Emergency Services, Red Cross, municipalities, neighborhood groups to facilitate planning for hazardous events and mobilize response operations when they do occur. A large scale event, would also include federal agencies, FEMA, US Army Corps of Engineers, National Weather Service, US Geological Survey, and counterpart agencies at the state, county, and municipal levels. This decision support module, developed and tested, will be sustained through savings gained from mitigating actual disasters. It can also be extended to address other distributed problems in disaster operations, such as managing shelters for large numbers of displaced persons. This function requires determining appropriate locations for shelters, setting requirements for different segments of the shelter population, and recognizing potential obstacles to providing adequate shelter. These funds will serve as seed money to develop an initial community project that will attract other organizations in the three regions of the County to engage in disaster preparedness activities. The impact of the project will be measured in four ways: 1) time saved in the mobilization of response operations for extreme events that occur within Allegheny County; 2) reduced losses from disruption to communities from extreme events; 3) number of community organizations - public, private, and nonprofit - engaged in assessing their own risks, and 4) number of measures adopted to reduce risk. We will measure the number of actions taken by neighboring communities to manage risk at the level closest to its occurrence. The goal is to achieve the ‘whole community’ approach to building resilience.


Brian Chalfant, Graduate Student Researcher, bac84@pitt.edu

Brian Collela, Graduate Student Researcher, bac47@pitt.edu

Center for Disaster Management
3807 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260