- As emergency resources stretched ever thinner as a result of nearly concurrent hurricanes, MIT’s Humanitarian Response Lab worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington to assist with supply chain coordination across public and private sectors, the university reported.
- Located within MIT's own Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL), the Humanitarian Response Lab operates as an information resource for the supply chain systems working behind public services and private markets to improve crisis response.
- The lab has extensive connections among CTL alumni and more than 50 Supply Chain Exchange corporate partners. Between them, the lab labored to gather intelligence on post-Harvey private sector capabilities and help provide fuel and other immediate necessities to affected areas, both in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
A good emergency plan may help see you through a storm, but fresh data and insights are incredibly useful for risk prep and preempting and mitigating disaster.
Home Depot has an active and effective disaster supply chain, but even it can be strained when back-to-back calls for materials occur. Exxon Mobil likely had a strong disaster plan as well, but that was not enough to keep it from releasing an excess of vapors, a likely target of lawsuits, in the wake of Harvey. Meanwhile, despite the danger, some companies don't even plan for risk, believing it won't happen to them.
Yet, the unpredictable is always possible. Risk aversion and risk avoidance, while understandable, are not sufficient methods of surviving a storm, whether nature-based or manmade. Further, thanks to the sophistication of weather prediction and data accumulation, there is no justification for believing that risk can be wholly averted. By harnessing the data and applying it to formulate a variety of possible scenarios, a company can move from ineffective self-protection to good resilience, and therefore more likely survival.