Karen Smilowitz (center), associate professor of industrial engineering and management sciences at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, works with Northwestern students in forward command at the 2014 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K in March. (Credit: Bank of America Chicago Marathon)
Northwestern students and faculty teamed up with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon again this year to improve an already excellent race that draws approximately 45,000 runners from around the world.
Karen Smilowitz, a logistics expert at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and George T. Chiampas, medical director of the Chicago Marathon and an emergency medicine professor at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, have been leading this multi-year joint project.
Smilowitz and Chiampas are working closely with two other Northwestern faculty and a team of students to use data analytics to best prepare for a mass gathering of the marathon’s magnitude — including course design, medical preparedness, public safety and security.
The team already has developed a visual “dashboard” that displays critical and logistical race data in real time in one convenient place for use by the Chicago Marathon’s forward command. The dashboard — tested earlier this year at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle — made its marathon debut on October 12.
“Our goal in this partnership is to use data to optimize decision-making prior and during these huge events, while taking many objectives into consideration,” said Smilowitz, associate professor of industrial engineering and management sciences at McCormick.
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