Service District Optimization: Usage of Facility Location Methods and Geographic Information Systems to Analyze and Optimize Urban Food Retail Distribution
71 Pages Posted: 19 May 2014
Date Written: May 17, 2014
With the surge of obesity in the United States, improving urban food environments has gained in importance. Research on food deserts focuses mainly on assessing the food environment but lacks methods of generating good solutions for the placement of food stores. This work uses a maximum covering location problem in combination with census block group GIS data from the City of Philadelphia to find optimal locations for future food store openings. A socioeconomic index of vulnerability is computed to weigh regions based on their residents' sensitivity to food access limitations. The analysis found that supermarkets in Philadelphia are relatively unequally distributed and that there are many viable locations which could satisfy both the public interest of improving food access as well as the private interest of being profitable. Going forward, this joint approach of GIS data and operations research can be used to highlight locations for possible policy interventions in urban areas.
Keywords: Geographic Information Systems; Operations Research; food deserts; population vulnerability; evidence-based policy
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