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DISPATCHING AND RELOCATION OF EMERGENCY VEHICLES ON FREEWAYS: THEORIES AND APPLICATIONS
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Resource allocation decisions are made to serve the current emergency without knowing which future emergency will be occurring. Different ordered combinations of emergencies result in different performance outcomes. Even though future decisions can be anticipated with scenarios, previous models follow an assumption that events over a time interval are independent. This dissertation follows an assumption that events are interdependent, because speed reduction and rubbernecking due to an initial incident provoke secondary incidents. The misconception that secondary incidents are not common has resulted in overlooking a look-ahead concept. This dissertation is a pioneer in relaxing the structural assumptions of independency during the assignment of emergency vehicles. When an emergency is detected and a request arrives, an appropriate emergency vehicle is immediately dispatched. We provide tools for quantifying impacts based on fundamentals of incident occurrences through identification, prediction, and interpretation of secondary incidents. A proposed online dispatching model minimizes the cost of moving the next emergency unit, while making the response as close to optimal as possible. Using the look-ahead concept, the online model flexibly re-computes the solution, basing future decisions on present requests. We introduce various online dispatching strategies with visualization of the algorithms, and provide insights on their differences in behavior and solution quality. The experimental evidence indicates that the algorithm works well in practice. After having served a designated request, the available and/or remaining vehicles are relocated to a new base for the next emergency. System costs will be excessive if delay regarding dispatching decisions is ignored when relocating response units. This dissertation presents an integrated method with a principle of beginning with a location phase to manage initial incidents and progressing through a dispatching phase to manage the stochastic occurrence of next incidents. Previous studies used the frequency of independent incidents and ignored scenarios in which two incidents occurred within proximal regions and intervals. The proposed analytical model relaxes the structural assumptions of Poisson process (independent increments) and incorporates evolution of primary and secondary incident probabilities over time. The mathematical model overcomes several limiting assumptions of the previous models, such as no waiting-time, returning rule to original depot, and fixed depot. The temporal locations flexible with look-ahead are compared with current practice that locates units in depots based on Poisson theory. A linearization of the formulation is presented and an efficient heuristic algorithm is implemented to deal with a large-scale problem in real-time.