UNM Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Eirini Eleni Tsiropoulou has been awarded a $300,000 National Science Foundation grant for work that could reshape public disaster response systems.
Tsiropoulou’s work explores the challenges with public safety systems that occur during and after disasters, where victims, first responders, and emergency control centers must coordinate efforts for effective rescue missions.
The project, named SOTERIA, aims to revolutionize the way disasters are managed and resources are allocated by introducing cutting-edge behavioral decision-making models and bio-inspired disaster response networks.
Tsiropoulou, a distinguished researcher in the field of game theory, said one of the primary challenges addressed by the project is the limited understanding of how humans make decisions during disasters, especially when dealing with uncertain resource availability.
Current models in this field are mostly qualitative and lack the necessary depth to account for complex risk-aware decision-making. The project introduces a novel behavioral decision-making model that captures these complexities, giving rise to a new field in game theory known as Satisfaction Games. A key aspect of the project is the introduction of the bio-inspired Disaster Response Network (DRN), which draws inspiration from the inherent robustness of biological networks found in living organisms. The DRN supports victims’ participation in reliable crowdsourcing, ensuring the accuracy and quality of collected information through an inventive Bayesian Prospect Theory.
The project’s outcomes are anticipated to transform the field of disaster response. By integrating efficient resource management techniques with human behavior considerations, the project aims to enhance victims’ satisfaction instead of merely maximizing utility. The proposed reinforcement learning techniques will empower victims to make informed decisions in real time, even when faced with incomplete information about resource availability.
The SOTERIA project not only pioneers novel methodologies but also has the potential to save lives and critical infrastructures during and after disasters, Tsiropoulou said.