BEAVERTON, Ore. | Gurobi Optimization, LLC, the creator of the world’s fastest mathematical optimization solver, announced that the Government of Chile has received the prestigious Franz Edelman Award for its outstanding operations work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministries of Health and Science partnered with the Complex Engineering Systems Institute (ISCI) and the telecommunications company Entel to develop innovative methodologies that have shaped the country’s fight against the virus. Gurobi’s technology has played a key role in the initiative’s serology screening by ensuring optimal assignment of mobile testing stations, an initiative that has ultimately demonstrated the importance of booster shots.
When the pandemic hit Chile during the spring of 2020, science, operations research and analytics played key roles in the country’s comprehensive response. The collaboration between Chile and ISCI focused on four key initiatives: 1) analysis of the real effects of lockdowns in different regions; 2) allocation of limited emergency room capacity; 3) increased testing capacity and active detection; and 4) implementation of a national serological surveillance program that significantly influenced Chile’s vaccination and booster dose options.
“During the first wave in 2020, we observed a great disparity in the effectiveness of lockdowns between different regions, and even within the same city,” explained ISCI researcher Marcelo Olivares. “Seeing this, it became clear that we needed indicators other than new cases to quickly assess the effectiveness of lockdowns because waiting to see how cases evolved proved to be too late a reaction to contain outbreaks.”
Research teams used anonymous mobility data to anticipate outbreaks, helping authorities develop more effective lockdown strategies. This resulted in an estimated reduction of 13,000 cases, 550 hospitalizations, and 370 deaths. Mobility data also revealed that social distancing was more difficult for low-income families, allowing the government to provide more targeted support.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health took control of emergency beds across the country, combining public and private hospitals into a single centralized system, transporting patients from more congested cities to areas with less congestion. ISCI researchers prepared data-driven forecasts every other day for the need for emergency beds in order to progressively increase capacity.
To identify more asymptomatic cases, the government increased mobile testing points in public spaces. The Ministries of Health and Sciences worked with ISCI to efficiently locate these stations by combining mobility with epidemiological data. These active screening efforts averted approximately 23,000 cases, 900 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths.
Without access to large quantities of messenger RNA vaccines, the Chilean government needed its own system to test and monitor the effectiveness of other available vaccination technologies. With the purpose of assigning mobile examination stations capable of providing representative samples of both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the Chilean research team used the Gurobi Optimizer to formulate an Integer Programming problem based on mobility patterns and demographic data. This allowed the team to determine the census tracts in which tests should be conducted. The problem was formulated and solved for each of the 16 regions of the country, and the resulting reviews provided key evidence to support a booster dose at a time when its need was not yet clear. Early adoption of booster doses prevented approximately 29,000 cases, 1,000 hospitalizations, and 1,000 deaths.
As a winner of the Franz Edelman Prize, Chile joins the ranks of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other previous honorees that have improved efficiency organization, which have helped promote peace negotiations and which have saved millions of lives. Known in the industry as the “Nobel Prize for operations research,” the competition is presented each year by INFORMS (the Institute for Operations Research and the Management of Sciences).
“We are proud of this nomination,” said Andrés Couve, Chile’s Minister of Science. “It shows that [la coordinación entre] the scientific community, the private sector and the government – which is not always easy – it is possible. . . and we did it in a country that is far from the centers of science and technology, a young nation that is preparing, together with the scientific community, to tackle future challenges. We also think that this nomination is a good opportunity to show that Chile can be an example of how science is used in public policy.”
About Gurobi Optimization
Gurobi produces the world’s most powerful mathematical optimization solver—Gurobi Optimizer—used by the world’s largest global companies in over 40 different industries to rapidly solve complex real-world problems and make automated decisions that optimize their efficiency and profitability. As the market leader in mathematical optimization software, we seek to deliver not only the best solver, but also the best support, so that companies can fully harness the power of mathematical optimization (alone or in conjunction with other AI techniques). such as machine learning) to drive optimal business decisions and outcomes.
Founded in 2008, Gurobi has operations throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, and has more than 2,500 clients globally including SAP, Air France, Uber and the National Football League (NFL). For more information, visit https://www.gurobi.com/ or call +1 713 871 9341.
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Chile receives Franz Edelman Award for COVID-19 research, supported by Gurobi