Prestigious research price for “Lives Saving Mathematics”

Former Ph.D. student Caroline Jagtenberg received the prestigious Jo van Nunen award for her Ph.D. thesis “Efficiency and Fairness in Ambulance Planning”, successfully defended at the VU on February 28, 2017, under supervision of VU Mathematics professors Rob van der Mei and Sandjai Bhulai. The price has been awarded by Vereniging Logistiek Management (VLM). This award is meant for research that positively positions Logistics and Supply Chain Management in the Dutch trade and industry and that builds a bridge between theory and practice.

12/15/2017 | 7:22 PM

The price has been awarded by Vereniging Logistiek Management (VLM). This award is meant for research that positively positions Logistics and Supply Chain Management in the Dutch trade and industry and that builds a bridge between theory and practice.

In life-threatening situations, an ambulance must be at the emergency scene within 15 minutes. In the Netherlands this response-time target is not met in some 35,000 cases per year (7%). In order to reduce the occurrence of late arrivals, Jagtenberg’s  thesis develops smart algorithms for proactive relocations of ambulance vehicles. This way, ambulances are pro-actively repositioned to locations where the likelihood of an incidents is relatively high. This new paradigm of pro-active relocations is fundamentally different form the classical re-active paradigm where ambulances are sent to an emergency scene after an incident happened.

Jagtenberg’s algorithms have not only been published in leading journals in the area of emergency services, they have also been implemented in planning software, and have been evaluated in practice. The results of a variety of real-life pilot studies with several ambulance providers in the Netherlands demonstrate that using the algorithms indeed lead to a strong reduction in late arrivals. This way, ‘Mathematics saves lives’.

Jagtenberg’s work has also been the basis for the foundation of a spinoff company Stokhos Emergency Services.

The Jo van Nunen Award is an initiative of the Vereniging Logistiek Management. The price has been named after visionair Jo van Nunen that was well known for building bridges between theory and practice within Logistics, Supply Chain Management and Operations Research.

Caroline Jagtenberg executed her Ph.D. research in the Stochastics group of the Center for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI).