Drivers of Complexity in Humanitarian Operations

Report Number: NPS-LM-13-127

Series: Logistics Management

Category: Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR)

Report Series: Sponsored Report

Authors: Jon K. Christensen, Jody K. Young

Title: Drivers of Complexity in Humanitarian Operations

Published: 2013-12-01

Sponsored By: Acquisition Research Program

Status: Published--Unlimited Distribution

Research Type: Graduate Student

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Keywords: Humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, disaster response, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, Emergency Events Database


This project investigates the relationship between the geographical dispersion and speed of onset of a disaster and how they increase the complexity of relief operations. Using the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) available from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, information was collected and filtered for 281 U.S. disasters that occurred between 2000 and 2011. Data was utilized from the U.S. Census Bureau to supplement the EM-DAT information to determine the area affected for each disaster. Each disaster was then ranked and assigned a value to represent the speed of onset based on each type and subtype that was provided by the EM-DAT. Plotting the disasters yielded a graph that was further analyzed to determine whether any patterns existed by comparing the number of personnel affected, number of casualties, and total damage costs incurred. The goal of this analysis is to determine whether the complexity of a disaster can be determined from its dispersion and speed of onset.