Service Design To Balance Waiting Time and Infection Risk: An Application for Elections During the COVID-19 Pandemic

49 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2020 Last revised: 14 May 2021

See all articles by Susana Mondschein

Susana Mondschein

Universidad de Chile

Marcelo Olivares

University of Chile; University of Chile - Engineering Department

Fernando Ordonez

University of Southern California - Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering

Daniel Schwartz

University of Chile

Andres Weintraub

University of Chile - Industrial Engineering

Cristian Aguayo

Instituto Sistemas Complejos de Ingenieria (ISCI)

Gianpiero Canessa

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) - Industrial Engineering and Management

Ignacio Torres

University of Chile - Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas

Date Written: November 15, 2020

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great disruption to the service sector, which has in turn adapted by implementing measures that reduce physical distancing among employees and users; examples include home-office work and the setting of occupancy restrictions at indoor locations. The design of services in the context of a pandemic requires balancing between two objectives: (i) special measures must be implemented to maintain physical separation among people to reduce the risk of infection, and (ii) these sanitary measures also reduce process capacity, thereby increasing the waiting times of users. We study this problem in the context of election processes, in which balancing waiting time with public safety is of first order relevance to ensuring voter turnout, using as a real-world application the Chilean 2020 national referendum. Analyzing this problem requires a multidisciplinary approach that consists of integrating randomized experiments to measure how voters weigh infection risk relative to waiting time and stochastic modeling/discrete event simulation to prescribe recommendations for the service design -- specifically setting capacity limits to trade-off between overcrowding and process efficiency. Overall, our results shows that infection risk is an important factor affecting voter turnout during a pandemic and that capacity limits can be a useful design tool to balance these risks with other service quality measures. Some of these findings were considered in the guidelines that Servel provided to manage capacity and voter arrival patterns at voting centers.

Keywords: service design, queueing, discrete event simulation, randomized experiment, process analysis, COVID-19, voting behavior

Suggested Citation

Mondschein, Susana and Olivares, Marcelo and Ordonez, Fernando Ivan and Schwartz, Daniel and Weintraub, Andres and Aguayo, Cristian and Canessa, Gianpiero and Torres, Ignacio, Service Design To Balance Waiting Time and Infection Risk: An Application for Elections During the COVID-19 Pandemic (November 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3734699 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3734699

Susana Mondschein

Universidad de Chile ( email )

Av. Blanco Encalada 2120
Santiago
Chile

Marcelo Olivares (Contact Author)

University of Chile ( email )

Pío Nono Nº1, Providencia
Santiago, R. Metropolitana 7520421
Chile

University of Chile - Engineering Department ( email )

Republica 701 Santiago
Chile

Fernando Ivan Ordonez

University of Southern California - Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering ( email )

United States
213-821-2413 (Phone)
213-740-1120 (Fax)

Daniel Schwartz

University of Chile ( email )

Beauchef 851
Santiago, R. Metropolitana
Chile

Andres Weintraub

University of Chile - Industrial Engineering

República 701, Santiago
Chile

HOME PAGE: aweintra@dii.uchile.cl

Cristian Aguayo

Instituto Sistemas Complejos de Ingenieria (ISCI) ( email )

Republica 695
Santiago
Santiago
Chile

Gianpiero Canessa

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) - Industrial Engineering and Management ( email )

Lindstedtsvägen 30
Stockholm, SE-100 44
Sweden

Ignacio Torres

University of Chile - Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas ( email )

Av. Blanco Encalada 2120
Santiago
Chile

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