The 2014 Best Paper in Transportation Science & Logistics

M. Grazia Speranza, Thibaut Vidal, Asvin Goel, and Rajesh Ganesan at the TSL Best Paper Award ceremony

At the annual INFORMS meeting 2014 in San Francicso my paper Hours of Service Regulations in Road Freight Transport: An Optimization-based International Assessment that I have co-authored with Thibaut Vidal has been honoured with the TSL Best Paper Award.

The award is given every year to an outstanding journal paper in the field of transportation science and logistics. At the meeting I had the opportunity to present the paper.

TSL Best Paper Award

2014 INFORMS TSL Best Paper Award

Science Award for Supply Chain Management 2014

Every year, the German Logistics Association (BVL) recognises innovative work of high practical relevance with the Science Award for Supply Chain Management. This year I was invited to present my work on hours of service regulations in road freight transport as finalist at the 31st International Supply Chain Conference in Berlin. Well, I didn’t win the award, however, in times where academic works that are not conducted in joint research with industry are too often defamed as irrelevant results of the ivory tower, I was positively surprised that my (rather theoretical) results have made it to the finals.

New hours of service regulations in the United States

In July 2013 new hours of service regulations entered into force in the United States. The rule change was based on a regulatory impact analysis conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Unfortunately the analysis of the FMCSA has several shortcomings. It does not consider the fact that motor carriers can optimise routes and schedules to mitigate the cost impact of a regulatory change and it does not consider the effect of cumulative sleep loss. We analysed how reducing the daily driving time limit would impact operational costs and road safety considering these issues. Based on a detailed model of the new regulation and a new simulation-based method to assess the impact of hours of service regulations we found that reducing the daily driving time limit to at most 10 hours would reduce accident risks by around 5% while transportation costs would increase by less than 1%. Reducing the daily driving time limit to 9 hours would reduce accident risks by up to 10% and increase transportation costs by less than 2%. Considering these findings, it may be necessary to reconsider whether the daily driving time limit should be reduced or not.


Telematics and the ongoing “computerization of society”

More than 30 years ago the French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing asked Simon Nora to conduct a survey on the impact of computers and new telecommunication technologies:

Dear Mr. Nora:
The applications of the computer have developed to such an extent that the economic and social organisation of our society and our way of life may well be transformed as a result. Our society should therefore be in a position both to foster this development and to control it so that it can be made to serve the cause of democracy and human growth.

In their report to the president Simon Nora, together with Alain Minc, coined the term télématique as a merger of the words télécommunication and informatique. Much of what is written in the report is equally valid today.

Each technological revolution in the past has brought about far-reaching economic and social reorganization. A technological revolution may simultaneously create a crisis and the means of overcoming it, as was the case with the coming of the steam engine, the railroads, and electricity.

The “computer revolution” will have wider consequences. The computer is not the only technological innovation of recent years, but it does constitute a common factor that speeds the development of all the others. Above all, insofar as it is responsible for an upheaval in the processing and storage of data, it will alter the entire nervous system of social organization.

Despite several decades of development, it appears that the “computerization of society” is still in its infancy and telematics may have an even larger power to transform the economic and social organisation of our society in the future. Today, mobile devices and social media are intruding our private lives and can even contribute to the fall of totalitarian systems as was the case in the Arab Spring.

The report (and the French original) are still worth reading today. When mentally replacing IBM with Microsoft and AT&T with Google, the book is actually not as outdated as one might assume for a report written in the seventies.