Assessing the need for computer models

Appearing in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice last year was an article discussing how public health officials use computer models.
The article, Use of Computer Modeling for Emergency Preparedness Functions by Local and State Health Officials: A Needs Assessment, is by Lisa A. Rosenfeld and her colleagues from Florida, New Hampshire, and Michigan.

The article defines computer modeling and focuses on models of pandemic influenza, radiologic releases, and severe heat waves. The authors surveyed a targeted sample of 40 public health officials in eight states.

They identified eight factors affecting the use of computer models: validity, reliability, authorship, accessibility, scalability, relevance, capacity, and applicability. Officials were more familiar with and had used more often models for pandemic influenza (including FluAid, FluSurge, the BERM POD planning model, and the Clinic Planning Model Generator) than with models for radiologic release (such as plume models) and models for severe heat waves (such as the National Weather Service Heat Index).

They report that emergency managers would like to have models that can generate actionable plans for emergency response and that health officials would like better communication and dissemination of information about models.

Health and Humanitarian Logistics

Georgia Tech recently hosted the 2010 Conference on Health and Humanitarian Logistics. (Adam Montjoy presented our poster on Solving the Inventory Slack Routing Problem for Medication Distribution Planning; see the complete list of posters.)

The conference organizers were Ozlem Ergun, Pinar Keskinocak, and Julie Swann, who is an associate professor at Georgia Tech and an associate editor for the IIE Transactions Homeland Security Department. Dr. Swann also works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a senior science adviser. The Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine has a nice article about her work and Tech’s Center for Humanitarian Logistics.