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Cécile L'Hermitte, William Wang, & Eric Deakins. (2018). Exploring the Physical Internet concept to improve disaster relief operations. In Kristin Stock, & Deborah Bunker (Eds.), Proceedings of ISCRAM Asia Pacific 2018: Innovating for Resilience – 1st International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Asia Pacific. (pp. 12–27). Albany, Auckland, New Zealand: Massey Univeristy.
Abstract: Successful disaster relief operations call for responsive and flexible movements of goods in order to make the relief items available when and where they are needed by the affected communities. The objective of this explorative research is to investigate the applicability of the Physical Internet to emergency relief operations. The Physical Internet is a groundbreaking logistical system in which standardised, modular packages are automatically routed from origin to destination through a hyperconnected network of logistics providers and facilities. Although the concept is receiving growing attention from academics, practitioners and policy makers, research in the disaster management context is virtually non-existent. Based on a review of the relevant academic literature and publicly available information from emergency responding agencies and the media, we firstly use the Kaikoura earthquake that occurred in the South Island of New Zealand on 14th November 2016 to identify six key requirements that support the efficient movement of relief items in the aftermath of a disaster. We then identify six characteristics of the Physical Internet and explore how these characteristics can support the requirements of emergency response operations. We conclude that the Physical Internet principles have the potential to enhance the speed, flexibility and reliability of emergency responses. In other words, a fully integrated and collaborative logistics system in which relief items and information move seamlessly across a web of interconnected transport modes and operators can increase the efficient deployment of urgently needed relief items. This study extends the Physical Internet principles to emergency relief operations and identifies new ways of improving and optimising the logistics of emergency responses. In doing so, this research aims to stimulate debate within the disaster relief sector.