Since the 1940s, Science of Logistics has been always a cornerstone of Operational Research.
Since November 2019, our planet has been hit by the new coronavirus (COVID-19). This seriously challenges our societies, economies, healthcare systems, education and several other services and infrastructures, all around the globe. The uncertainty that has been introduced by this hit, has caused serious confusion and indecision in different parts of our societies and has affected our lifestyle.
Most authorities (states, regions, cities, etc.) have opted for and instructed various forms of lockdown and restrictions, promoting social distancing, remote working, shutting down non-essential services and several others, aiming at controlling the spread of the virus and managing the capacity of health care systems.
The imbalanced spatial distribution of various facilities, in many districts and neighborhoods, has caused access problem for citizens. Some citizens have walking distance access to facilities in order to fulfil their primary needs while for others, the use of public transport (which is also used for home-to-work commute of workers in essential service sectors) remains inevitable. The latter being a challenge to the precautionary measures of social distancing, thus increasing the risk of spread.
We are talking about facilities associated with health, food, policing, energy, telecommunications, garbage collections, equipment, and so on. While under these circumstances, demand for some non-essential services has drastically dropped down, there is a need to identify new policies aiming at introducing an adequate level of access to the essential services and facilities. This is particularly the case in those less developed suburbs and neighborhoods wherein new facilities shall be launched.
Sure enough, there are and will be serious social and societal problems, where Operational Research could act by presenting decision scenarios. Given the growth in the number of positive cases of COVID-19, decisions need to be made quickly, avoiding further casualties.
This is the time for all Operational Research societies and those interested in emergency logistics to approach and place themselves at the disposal of the mayors of their cities, governors of their regions and the top representative of their countries.
It is our obligation to be at the forefront in the fight against this pandemic.
Former President of International Federation of Operational Research Societies
(IFORS, from 2013.01.01 to 2015.12.31)
Professor Emeritus, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
April 26, 2020