Projects and Applications
Below, we provide descriptions of a sample of ongoing and past projects.
Designers at NASA Goddard's Mission Design Lab
When an organization with a fixed structure designs products with many different technical architectures, do problems arise when the organization's structure does not "fit" well with the technical architecture? We study NASA's concurrent design facilities to understand whether and why problems arise in the design process, based on communication among designers.
Workshop for market system mapping and measuring
Measuring change in complex systems is challenging. We work with USAID/Uganda to develop new ways to measure systemic change in agricultural market systems.
Transportation network after the Haiti earthquake
With a fleet of vehicles, more cargo than you can transport, and some idea of the critical commodities and most-in-need areas, how do you decide which cargo to load on each truck and where to send it? We developed a decision-making approach to prioritize cargo and optimize the use of the fleet.
Factory design created by a team in our study
When a design problem is too complex to solve all at once, design teams typically decompose complex design problems into sets of related subproblems. The choice of decomposition may impact the character and quality of the final solution. Our research observes teams during a factory redesign exercise, to understand how they decompose the problem and how their choice of decomposition impacts the final solution.
Oil spill response exercise (Courtesy NOAA)
Oil spill responders must be ready to respond quickly and effectively in the event of an oil spill. In order to maintain readiness, they exercise the response on a regular basis. It is important that these exercises effectively test readiness and generate lessons that can improve readiness. We developed a framework to support better exercise design by identifying the critical capabilities required, mapping them to exercise design concepts that test each capability and evaluation measures to evaluate their performance in an exercise. It supports continuous improvement by identifying key areas for improvement and enabling comparability across exercises.
Report on information needs after an emergency
With the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), we facilitated a workshop to elicit the critical information needs of field-based decision-makers after a sudden-onset emergency. Twenty experienced humanitarian aid workers from various organizations participated. A report was produced detailing the types of decisions that must be made, and the information required to make them. The report can be accessed from the decision-maker needs community website.
Current FEMA registration process entry point
As a class project, students examined FEMA's registration process for survivors affected by disasters. They worked to redesign the process flow to make it more efficient, more clear and comprehensible, and more compassionate.
American Red Cross Digital Operations Center
We worked with the American Red Cross to understand what information was required by key field-based decision makers during disaster response. We learned that, while it is difficult to define specific information needs a priori, we could identify common "purposes" to which information was put, and common characteristics of information required.
Needs assessment survey locations in a Port-au-Prince camp
After the Haiti earthquake, we worked with the US Government to develop a multi-sectoral needs assessment. In cooperation with the humanitarian community, we developed and deployed a four-month survey of internally displaced persons camps in Port-au-Prince.
At WFP's Logistics Cluster emergency response training
We have attended and facilitated five logistics response team trainings with the United Nations World Food Programme and the Logistics Cluster. Each training simulates the first week of an emergency response, in a 24x7 immersive environment.
Testing the process mapping toolkit at Oxfam GB in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
We worked with Oxfam GB during the summer of 2008. We developed a process mapping toolkit to support changes to business processes, by assessing current processes in field offices and enabling identification of necessary changes. The toolkit also supports the rollout of a new logistics software application. The toolkit was tested and refined through visits to Indonesia and Zambia offices.