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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  

Holger Johann

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Margeret Hall

Karlsruhe Service Research Institute

Steven O. Kimbrough

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Nicholas Quintus

Independent

Christof Weinhardt

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Date Written: May 17, 2014

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Johann, Holger and Hall, Margeret and Kimbrough, Steven O. and Quintus, Nicholas and Weinhardt, Christof, Service District Optimization: Usage of Facility Location Methods and Geographic Information Systems to Analyze and Optimize Urban Food Retail Distribution (May 17, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2438247 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2438247

Holger Johann

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ( email )

Kaiserstraße 12
Karlsruhe, Baden Württemberg 76131
Germany

Margeret Hall (Contact Author)

Karlsruhe Service Research Institute ( email )

Englerstr. 11
11.40
Karlsruhe, 76131
Germany

Steven Kimbrough

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

Nicholas Quintus

Independent ( email )

Christof Weinhardt

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ( email )

Kaiserstraße 12
Karlsruhe, Baden Württemberg 76131
Germany

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