OK Computer

In the near future, real-time scheduling for disaster recovery could be done by super computers. The Institute of Mathematics for Industry at Kyushu University and Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. are developing new technology to take the grunt work out of scheduling necessary tasks such as repairing lifelines and road networks, according to a release.

Challenges to emergency responders at major disaster sites include smaller incidents such as blocked roads and changing conditions, which can make analysis of real-time data for planning purposes difficult.

“During disasters, the restoration of lifelines and other efforts are undertaken under a complex set of conditions that make the efficient pursuit of optimum work schedules no easy task,” according to the release. “For example, interdependence among utility workers, which may constrain sequences of operations and require that joint operations be conducted mid process, and the working hours and skills of individual workers must be factored in. Existing techniques for formulating optimized schedules in large-scale disaster-recovery work have not been able to deal with expanding the scope of recovery work as the disaster itself unfolds.”

The new technology is based on a “numerical-optimization algorithm that can quickly propose personnel allocation and scheduling for disaster recovery, even under complex constraints,” says the release. The algorithm takes into account changing constraints: “the ordering of task priority, merging tasks, prioritizing by area of activity, and limits on working hours, from among the vast number of possible scheduling combinations.”

In a test with 506 recovery sites and 64 work teams, the algorithm produced a recovery work schedule in three minutes. “This research makes use of and trials High-Performance Parallelization Technology for Multi-Processor Shared-Memory Computer Systems, software being developed for the Advanced Computing & Optimization Infrastructure for Extremely Large-Scale Graphs on Post Peta-Scale Supercomputers project in the Japan Science and Technology Agency's CREST strategic-research program,” says the release.

Researchers are presenting the algorithm in July 12 at the International Symposium on Mathematical Programming (ISMP2015) and the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC15) in Frankfurt and hope to have a practical usage in place with governments and emergency response teams in 2017.