I’ve decided to write some regular posts about what is going on with ORSNZ, and also give my thoughts on OR in NZ and around the world more generally. These will be “Inside ORSNZ” posts so you should be able to recognise and filter them appropriately 😊
The ORSNZ Council recently commissioned a strategic review of ORSNZ with an eye to redeveloping and revitalising the ORSNZ website as the hub of the society. This strategic review has been completed and the Council is now deciding on whether to proceed with the website refresh.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 and its latest (Delta) incarnation means that for the 2nd year in a row there will be no ORSNZ Annual Conference. This is a real shame as the Annual Conference is a great opportunity to catch up and see what everyone has been up to. I hope the website refresh, if it goes ahead, will be able to fill this gap a little in the future by creating a more vibrant online community for ORSNZ. ORSNZ can also provide some funding for smaller local or research area events particularly through the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) or RIGs (Regional Interest Groups).
A couple of other “hats” that I wear have given me some interesting insights recently.
Since July this year I have been Deputy Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini and observing the diversity of modelling and the focus on impact, both within the community and at a policy level, has been really exciting. The value of transdisciplinary research is being recognised within the research landscape and one of our Council members recently remarked (on transdisciplinary research) that “It all sounds like what OR has been doing for 70 years.” I wholeheartedly agree with this and over the last 5 years it seems to me that modelling in general and OR modelling in particular has had somewhat of a renaissance due to the wealth of data now available and the greater acceptance of models. One example of this is a research project simulating the critical care system in Aotearoa New Zealand that Ilze Ziedins, Cameron Walker and I worked on. Much of the recent modelling has been under the news “brands” of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science. I think there are also exciting new opportunities for combining machine learning and traditional OR models for real-world decision making.
With respect to AI, I am one of the Aotearoa New Zealand representatives in the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), working in the AI and Pandemic Response Working Group. I am co-leading a project on Immediate Response to the Pandemic and have had a chance to review multiple AI initiatives being used to combat COVID-19. I was pleased to see a reasonably standard integer programming approach being used to balance patient numbers across hospitals within US states. The full living repository of AI initiatives for pandemic response can be found here.
OK, that is enough from me for now. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with comments/questions and let me know if there is anything you would like publicised next month.
I’m writing to let you know about two APORS events next year.
The first is APORS 2022 in Cebu, Philippines. 500 word abstracts are due by April 1, 2022 (and can be submitted from Februrary 1, 2022). More details can be found on the Call for Papers.
The second is the online Winter School of Operational Research in Public Health EmergencieS (ORPHES) – a partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO), EURO, Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) and APORS. Applications are due by December 1, 2021. More details can be found on the short and long versions of the Call for Applicants.
Please see email below from Andy Philpott about Peter Whittle who recently passed. Andy has also provided the Memorial Tribute for Prof. Whittle generously shared by Frank Kelly.
Noho ora mai, Mike
“I just learnt from Cambridge that Peter Whittle died on August 10, at the age of 94.
Peter, who was born in Wellington, was Professor of Operational Research at Cambridge for many years, and is unarguably New Zealand’s OR GOAT. He won both the von Neumann theory prize and the Lanchester Prize and was a FRS. I unearthed this YouTube interview that was done by Frank Kelly a few years ago, that gives you an overview of his contributions.
There is an opportunity to contribute to research on AI for response to the current and future pandemics. Please see the invitation below.
Ngā mihi, Mike (ORSNZ President and member of the GPAI AI & Pandemic Response Subgroup)
Were you involved in developing an AI system used in COVID-19 pandemic response? Please support research being conducted by The Future Society, the GPAI AI & Pandemic Response Subgroup, and the OECD by completing this survey by August 2nd: https://oecd.ai/wonk/pandemic
Just an update on the process to select the ORSNZ Council for 2021. This occurred at the online ORSNZ AGM and all Council members were retained as no other members were interested in serving on Council with one exception:
Sarah Marshall stepped down from the Communications role to be a Council member in 2019. In 2020, Tom Adams was elected to Council in the Communications role. Since we had a quorum at the AGM we were able to make this decision.
The regional contacts are: Auckland – Paul Rouse Wellington – Robyn Moore Christchurch – Grant Read
Please get in touch if you have any questions or concerns about the ORSNZ Council for 2021.
We have been invited to join this webinar. Please see the relevant parts of the invitation below.
Ngā mihi, Mike
“It is my pleasure to invite you all to the 5th IFORS global Webinar on Women in OR with a theme of Gender Diversity in the World: Initiatives and Issues in the O.R. Community, being held on June 29, 2021 at 9:00 AM Washington DC time. It is in the continuation of the IFORS global webinar series. Please find the invitation flyer attached herewith.
In collaboration with the CEIMIA, the GPAI’s AI and Pandemic Response Working Group is launching a Call for Proposal in connection with its project entitled “AI-powered immediate response to pandemics”. The consultancy is for updating and upgrading an existing living repository of AI initiatives to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to be presented at the 2021 GPAI Summit in November. Please refer to the Call for Proposal linked down below for more information. Proposals must be submitted before Midnight AoE, JUNE 18, 2021.
Joint ORSNZ-TPM seminar at University of Canterbury
Time: Monday 14 June 12.30-1.30pm Place: Jack Erskine 315, University of Canterbury
The modelling of complex systems has been critical in informing the Aotearoa New Zealand response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to be important in our recovery. The Operations Research Society of New Zealand and Te Pūnaha Matatini invite you to join Dr Mike O’Sullivan (President, ORSNZ, and Incoming Deputy Director, TPM) for a seminar and discussion panel on complexity modelling. Mike will present some case studies of complex systems models that have been used to inform decisions during the pandemic, and concepts for models that can be used to help decision makers during the pandemic recovery and into the future. His 30-minute seminar will be followed by a discussion panel amongst complexity modellers from the Ōtautahi Christchurch area.
The room has a capacity of 33, so please RSVP to michael.osullivan AT auckland.ac.nz if you have an opportunity to do so.