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PI Academy to explore logistical challenges at mass-participation events

March 17, 2016
Karen Smilowitz. Photo credit: Andrew Campbell, Northwestern University

Karen Smilowitz.
Photo credit: Andrew Campbell, Northwestern University

Mass-participation events bring a host of significant planning and implementation challenges.

The organizers of the Chicago Marathon have developed a holistic approach to event planning, referred to as the Chicago Model, which brings together major organizations (e.g., race organizers, fire and police departments, emergency management, Red Cross) to coordinate preparation and response for the event and surrounding areas.

NIU’s PI Academy Mentor Speaker Series will host Karen Smilowitz, professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at Northwestern University, to explain more about logistical challenges at mass-participation events.

Smilowitz will talk at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in Room 354 of the Engineering Building. All are welcome.

Her presentation will include a brief overview of her ongoing research project to expand the capabilities of the Chicago Model through operations research methodologies and a more detailed look at marathon course design.

“As part of our efforts to formalize course design, we introduce the Lock-Free Arc Tour Problem (LFATP), a novel tour finding problem which ensures that the resulting tour does not block access to certain critical  vertices,” Smilowitz said.

“For endurance events, such as a marathon, a key consideration in course design is the proximity to medical care. Equally important, the course itself should not lock hospitals and other critical facilities within the course, thereby reducing access for the general public,” she added. “The LFATP is formulated as a mixed integer linear program, addressing both considerations.”

Smilowitz, a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, holds a joint appointment with the Northwestern University Transportation Center. She studies modeling and solution approaches for logistics and transportation systems in both commercial and non-profit applications, working with transportation providers, logistics specialists and a range of non-profit organizations.

For more information on her talk, call (815) 753-5008 or email [email protected].