O.R., blood and the Olympics

The 2012 Olympic Games will be held in London next summer. Operational Research has played a significant part in the planning, and one company is promoting itself in adverts as the "Logistics provider" for these Games.

Another facet of the Games crossed my desk this week. The magazine distributed to regular blood donors had a two-page article about "how to keep blood supplies running smoothly during the Games". I confess that I had not thought that there might be any connection, but the article identified several aspects of the "supply chain" which might be important. There will be traffic and transport delays around the areas where the Games are taking place, as spectators and competitors add to the congestion (transportation problem). Some supply points (or blood donor centres) will not be usable as a result, so alternative sites have been selected (location problem). The demand will change, so inventories of blood will need to be recalculated, including provision for emergencies (inventory problem). The advertising for donors will be changed during summer 2012 to take account of the normal drop of supplies during the summer, and to encourage donations during the period of the games (allocation of finance problem, selection of advertising media problem).

We mustn't forget that behind all these will be some forecasting models!

Once again, O.R. is the hidden science.


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