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Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

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Using Simulated Annealing to Improve the Information Dissemination Network Structure of a Foreign Animal Disease Outbreak Response

James D. Pleuss
  • Corresponding author
  • United States Military Academy, Department of Mathematical Sciences, 646 Swift Road, West Point, NY, United States of America
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
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/ Jessica L. Heier Stamm
  • Kansas State University, Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Manhattan, KS, United States of America
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jason D. Ellis
  • Kansas State University, Department of Communications and Agricultural Education, Manhattan, KS, United States of America
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-07-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jhsem-2017-0008


Communication is an integral part of emergency response, and improving the information dissemination network for crisis communication can save time, resources, and lives. In a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak, timeliness of detection and response are critical. An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, a particularly significant FAD, could cripple the agriculture economy. This research uses communication data from a FAD response exercise in Kansas to develop a reliable crisis communication network model, contributing a general method for creating an information dissemination network from empirical communication data. We then introduce a simulated annealing heuristic that identifies an alternative network structure that minimizes the time for information to reach all response participants. The resultant network structure reduces overall information transmission time by almost 90% and reveals actionable observations for improving FAD response communication. We find that not only can a crisis communication network be improved significantly, but also that the quantitative results support qualitative observations from early in the data extraction process. This paper adds original methods to the literature and opens the door for future quantitative work in the area of crisis communication and emergency response.

Keywords: crisis communication; foreign animal disease response; network analysis; simulated annealing; simulation


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-07-10

Citation Information: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Volume 15, Issue 3, 20170008, ISSN (Online) 1547-7355, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jhsem-2017-0008.

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