Inside ORSNZ – OR for Impact

Kia ora koutou,

As stated on our website “The primary aim of the Society is to promote Operations Research and Management Science in New Zealand in both academic and industrial aspects.”

To me, one of the best ways to promote OR and MS is to embark on work in those areas that have impact. This impact may be within an organisation, community or even nationally. A few examples from my own experience are:

  • Finding the right layout for junior football pitches to maximise the usage of a local park;
  • Creating an Excel spreadsheet that used OpenSolver to find the correct angle for wire embedded within hoses for a hose manufacturer;
  • Creating rosters for General Medicine registrars at Auckland City Hospital and Waitakere Hospital;
  • Modelling of ward/ICU occupancy throughout New Zealand under different future scenarios including Covid-19 spread.

All of these opportunities to utilise OR techniques for impact came about either through my own communication of what OR is and what it can do or word of mouth from previous projects that provided real-world impact. As OR practitioners I would encourage all of you to communicate openly about OR (“math modelling for decision making” is a phrase I use often), listen well to people explaining what they need (their “pain points”) and reach out to others if the opportunity is not within your skill set (that encourages organisations to come back to you in the future).

And please let us know about your own OR/MS project that have provided real-world impact! We hope to start showcasing some of this work as we refresh the website.

Noho ora mai, Mike (ORSNZ President,