Information Technology

Information Visibility in Humanitarian Operations: Current State-of-the-Art

Information Visibility in Humanitarian Operations: Current State-of-the-Art
In N. Atlay, M. Haselkorn, and C. Zobel (Eds.), Advances in Managing Humanitarian Operations. New York: Springer.

Privett, N.
04/18/2015

Purpose – Humanitarian operations can be greatly improved through increased supply chain visibility, that is, availability of information throughout the supply chain. This is broadly true for all types of humanitarian operations, whether disaster relief, global health efforts, or capacity building, or community development., and it is especially true for operations in developing or compromised country contexts.  This chapter establishes basic supply chain visibility needs in humanitarian contexts and explores current state-of-the-art technologies and applications employed to gain and improve visibility in humanitarian operations.  Conclusions are drawn regarding gaps in current visibility mechanisms as well as promising areas for further research and development.

                                                                       

Approach – Information regarding visibility needs, technologies, and projects was collected through 22 semi-structured interviews and a review of current literature from a variety of sources.  The state-of-the-art of visibility technology and applications are described by reviewing technologies, applications, and pilot projects in the humanitarian sector.  Conclusions are drawn comparing these technologies and addressing their weaknesses as well as remaining gaps in currently available solutions.

 

Findings – There is consensus among humanitarian researchers and practitioners that increased visibility has the potential to greatly improve humanitarian operations.  Firstly, though, any visibility mechanism must first be robust to potential humanitarian contextual challenges, including weak infrastructure (e.g., roads, electricity, internet and mobile networks), remoteness of operations, lack of human resources, and environmental conditions.  Identified visibility needs for humanitarian operations include tracking of location, tracking of inventory levels, temperature monitoring, tracing product information, information sharing, and decision making support.

This chapter demonstrates that current state-of-the-art technologies and applications aimed at increasing visibility in humanitarian operations are varied in approach and complexity; while  each tackle different needs, no one solution satisfies all. Reviewed technologies and applications are organized into the following categories: nontechnology-based applications, mature technologies, mobile phone applications and technologies, satellite-based technologies, temperature sensor and monitor technologies, and software technologies.  Indeed, each mechanism investigated (state-of-the-art technologies and applications) does improve visibility to some degree, but more complete visibility must be achieved through disconnected, patchwork solutions.  Thus, multifaceted and disjoined efforts must be employed to achieve even low levels of visibility today.

Over all of these technologies and applications, a set of key weaknesses has been identified.  While great advances and success has been achieved, unfeasible infrastructure dependency continues to be a weakness of existing technologies and applications. Such dependency includes reliance on electricity, computers, internet connectivity, cellular networks, and existing systems (e.g., RFID reader network). It is observed in this research, that as a solution moves away from being infrastructure dependent, it becomes more dependent on human resources.  As such, many of these solutions are labor intensive, dependent on reporting, and require extensive training.  However, human resources constraints and dependency themselves are serious issues facing humanitarian operations.  Furthermore, data collection is clearly limited and existing methods continue to be plagued by inaccuracy, deficient error checking provisions, and lack of back-up. Some data is still not real-time and delayed notification does not enable prevention. Affordability is another key weakness in the form of the devices, systems, and/or usage. 

Most importantly, for information visibility to be beneficial, (1) the information must be actionable and (2) the gained information and operational reaction systems must be synchronized for action, i.e., operations must be prepared and capable to respond to the information.  Thus, the greatest limitations are the lack of systems, procedures, and training that enable meaningful and appropriate reaction to the information provided. 

Contribution – This research assembles and evaluates current needs and efforts in humanitarian operations and supply chain visibility. Overall, this chapter informs current research and practice of ideal, necessary and realistically obtainable information in today’s humanitarian operations.  The benefits of this work extend broadly to operations and supply chain researchers and practitioners, including those engaged in humanitarian relief, global health supply chains, capacity building, and ongoing development campaigns.  Furthermore, the identification of gaps in current state-of-the-art technologies and applications directs future efforts of developers and users.

Twitter Response to the United States Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations against Screening with Prostate Specific Antigen

Twitter Response to the United States Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations against Screening with Prostate Specific Antigen
BJU International. DOI: 10.1111/bju.12748

Prabhu, V., T. Lee, S. Loeb, J.H. Holmes, H.T. Gold, H. Lepor, D.F. Penson, and D.V. Makarov
03/24/2014

Objective: To examine public and media response to the United States Preventive Services Task Force's (USPSTF) draft (October 2011) and finalized (May 2012) recommendations against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing using Twitter, a popular social network with over 200 million active users.

Materials and Methods: We used a mixed methods design to analyze posts on Twitter, called “tweets.” Using the search term “prostate cancer,” we archived tweets in the 24 hour periods following the release of the USPSTF draft and finalized recommendations. We recorded tweet rate per hour and developed a coding system to assess type of user and sentiment expressed in tweets and linked articles.

Results: After the draft and finalized recommendations, 2042 and 5357 tweets focused on the USPSTF report, respectively. Tweet rate nearly doubled within two hours of both announcements. Fewer than 10% of tweets expressed an opinion about screening, and the majority of these were pro-screening during both periods. In contrast, anti-screening articles were tweeted more frequently in both draft and finalized study periods. From the draft to the finalized recommendations, the proportion of anti-screening tweets and anti-screening article links increased (p= 0.03 and p<0.01, respectively).

Conclusions: There was increased Twitter activity surrounding the USPSTF draft and finalized recommendations. The percentage of anti-screening tweets and articles appeared to increase, perhaps due to the interval public comment period. Despite this, most tweets did not express an opinion, suggesting a missed opportunity in this important arena for advocacy.

Prostate Cancer Imaging Trends After a Nationwide Effort to Discourage Inappropriate Prostate Cancer Imaging

Prostate Cancer Imaging Trends After a Nationwide Effort to Discourage Inappropriate Prostate Cancer Imaging
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 105, no. 17, pp. 1306-1313. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djt175

Makarov, D.V., S. Loeb, D. Ulmert, L. Drevin, M. Lambe, and P. Stattin
07/13/2013

Background: Reducing inappropriate use of imaging to stage incident prostate cancer is a challenging problem highlighted recently as a Physician Quality Reporting System quality measure and by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Urological Association in the Choosing Wisely campaign. Since 2000, the National Prostate Cancer Register (NPCR) of Sweden has led an effort to decrease national rates of inappropriate prostate cancer imaging by disseminating utilization data along with the latest imaging guidelines to urologists in Sweden. We sought to determine the temporal and regional effects of this effort on prostate cancer imaging rates.

Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study among men diagnosed with prostate cancer from the NPCR from 1998 to 2009 (n = 99 879). We analyzed imaging use over time stratified by clinical risk category (low, intermediate, high) and geographic region. Generalized linear models with a logit link were used to test for time trend.

Results: Thirty-six percent of men underwent imaging within 6 months of prostate cancer diagnosis. Overall, imaging use decreased over time, particularly in the low-risk category, among whom the imaging rate decreased from 45% to 3% (P < .001), but also in the high-risk category, among whom the rate decreased from 63% to 47% (P < .001). Despite substantial regional variation, all regions experienced clinically and statistically (P < .001) significant decreases in prostate cancer imaging.

Conclusions: A Swedish effort to provide data on prostate cancer imaging use and imaging guidelines to clinicians was associated with a reduction in inappropriate imaging over a 10-year period, as well as slightly decreased appropriate imaging in high-risk patients. These results may inform current efforts to promote guideline-concordant imaging in the United States and internationally.

Getting Started with Open Data, A Guide for Transportation Agencies

Getting Started with Open Data, A Guide for Transportation Agencies
May, 2012

Kaufman, Sarah M.
05/01/2012

Getting Started with Open Data is a guide for transportation agencies that would like to release their schedule data and administrative records to the public, and need an introduction to the practice. This guide is intended to result in streamlined use of transportation services and promote a productive dialogue between agencies and their constituents. It is being released as a living document, intended for input from both transportation data owners and users, to result in the most complete open transportation data guide possible.

Convergence: News Production in a Digital Age

Convergence: News Production in a Digital Age
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 597, no. 1, pp. 48-64. doi: 10.1177/0002716204270346

Klinenberg, E.
01/01/2005

A paradox of contemporary sociology is that the discipline has largely abandoned the empirical study of journalistic organizations and news institutions at the moment when the media has gained visibility in political, economic, and cultural spheres; when other academic fields have embraced the study of media and society; and when leading sociological theorists have broken from the disciplinary canon to argue that the media are key actors in modern life. This article examines the point of journalistic production in one major news organization and shows how reporters and editors manage constraints of time, space, and market pressure under regimes of convergence news making. It considers the implications of these conditions for the particular forms of intellectual and cultural labor that journalists produce, drawing connections between the political economy of the journalistic field, the organizational structure of multimedia firms, new communications technologies, and the qualities of content created by media workers.

'Forever Worthy of the Saving': Lincoln and a More Moral Union

'Forever Worthy of the Saving': Lincoln and a More Moral Union
Lincoln's American Dream Edited by in Joseph Fornieri & Kenneth Deutsch. Potomac Books.

Kersh, R.
01/01/2005

Countering the claim that there is nothing new to be said about the 16th US president, political scientists Deutsch (State U. of New York-Geneseo) and Fornieri (Rochester Institute of Technology) introduce 33 diverse perspectives on his views and legacy. Lincoln scholars and political commentators examine such still-relevant themes as race, equality, the Constitution, executive power, war crimes, religion, and Federal vs. state rights. The last essay assumes the Lincolnian position on current debates over multiculturalism and abortion.

A Conceptual Framework

A Conceptual Framework
Chapter 1 in R. Zimmerman, R. and T.A. Horan, eds. Digital Infrastructures: Enabling Civil and Environmental Systems through Information Technology. London, UK: Routledge,

Zimmerman, R. & Horan, T.A..
01/01/2004

In a world that continues to increase in size and complexity, the dependence on information technologies (IT) that drive our life support systems is growing rapidly. Few other technologies have spread as rapidly. This book addresses the pervasive influence that IT has had on infrastructure, namely transportation, water supply and wastewater management, energy, and telecommunications, and its users. This is especially timely in light of the growing need for critical policy, management and technological choices about the reliability and security of IT and infrastructure systems, and in particular what was deemed critical infrastructure by the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection in 1997 (US Department of Commerce, Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office 1997) and again in 2003 by the White House (White House 2003).

Dept. of Building, Winning the West

Dept. of Building, Winning the West
The New Yorker, July 5,

Whitagker, C. & Finnegan, W.
01/01/2004

Both sides have started punching harder lately in the brawl over whether or not to build a seventy-five-thousand-seat football stadium over the Hudson rail yards on Manhattan’s far West Side. The New York Jets, who would own the place, will be taking computers from the mouths of needy schoolchildren if the state and the city are forced to provide the six hundred million dollars that would be their part of the deal—or, at least, that’s what the television ads paid for by the Dolan family, the owners of Madison Square Garden, say. Nonsense, say the Jets and their supporters, who include Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, and the construction unions. The stadium will be such a financial success that it will end up giving computers to needy schoolchildren. Opponents say that the stadium will sink New York City’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics (the International Olympic Committee does not like controversy). No, say the stadium’s backers, it is the centerpiece of the city’s Olympic hopes.

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