HOPS: On-line Helicopter Mission Planning for First Aid in Disaster Response

Funded Research Project
Year: 2011-2014 Project Team: Linet Özdamar, Onur Demir (odemir@cse.yeditepe.edu.tr), Erdinç Bakır (ebakir@cse.yeditepe.edu.tr).  

This project involves the development of a software system, HOPS, composed of mathematical models, Geographical Information System (GIS) and clustering algorithms. HOPS coordinates the distribution of first aid materials and vaccines and the evacuation of injured people. The system can coordinate marine, land and air transportation including helicopters.

Helicopters involve special flight constraints and therefore, the operational planning of helicopters is an important issue. When other means of transportation are badly affected by a disaster, first aid becomes hard to deliver. Under such circumstances, it would be best practice to deliver blood, i.v., medicine and vaccines by helicopters. Helicopters are the best vehicles to transport wounded persons to hospitals. Helicopter mission planning should be carried out very efficiently during first aid operations in disaster response. Helicopters are expensive vehicles and hourly flight costs are high. For instance, the cost of flying a Sikorsky S-92 an hour is about USD 2381.

In the literature, it is indicated that logistical disaster response models concerning first aid differ significantly from commercial transportation models. Therefore, solution models that target disaster response models are in development stage. Depending on the size of the disaster, very large scale relief networks induce very efficient solution methods. In this study, we design one of the most efficient mathematical models in this field as well as a parallel clustering algorithm based on this model. The solution methodology generates fast and high quality solutions regarding operational costs. Preliminary work on this approach has already started and it is in the stage of testing. Thanks to this approach, it will be possible to develop logistical plans for very large scale first aid and vaccination networks consisting of thousands of nodes and hundreds of helicopters.

As mentioned above, the goal of this project is to develop a GIS integrated helicopter logistics planning software that the Disaster Coordination Center can access via the internet. Access to HOPS will be enabled by a large variety of communication means. Data entry will be enabled by desktops on the network, the internet, SMS and mobile phone based platforms such as Android, Windows CE. As information on needs and the injured reach HOPS on line or via SMS, the software will develop operational helicopter plans within a few minutes and first aid will reach the needy in a very short time.

Besides providing fast first aid, HOPS considers the objectives of using the minimum number of helicopters during the mission and completing the mission within the minimum number of flight hours. During long-term disaster response operations, the reduction of operational costs is an important factor in the sustainability of humanitarian help. HOPS will contribute to the economy by enabling fast public vaccination with minimal logistics costs.

Permanent link to this article: http://cse.yeditepe.edu.tr/en/research/projects/funded-research-projects/hops-on-line-helicopter-mission-planning-for-first-aid-in-disaster-response/