Hierarchical Planning for Dynamic Resource Allocation in Smart and Connected Communities


Resource allocation under uncertainty is a classic problem in city-scale cyber-physical systems. Consider emergency response, where urban planners and first responders optimize the location of ambulances to minimize expected response times to incidents such as road accidents. Typically, such problems involve sequential decision making under uncertainty and can be modeled as Markov (or semi-Markov) decision processes. The goal of the decision maker is to learn a mapping from states to actions that can maximize expected rewards. While online, offline, and decentralized approaches have been proposed to tackle such problems, scalability remains a challenge for real world use cases. We present a general approach to hierarchical planning that leverages structure in city level CPS problems for resource allocation. We use emergency response as a case study and show how a large resource allocation problem can be split into smaller problems. We then use Monte Carlo planning for solving the smaller problems and managing the interaction between them. Finally, we use data from Nashville, Tennessee, a major metropolitan area in the United States, to validate our approach. Our experiments show that the proposed approach outperforms state-of-the-art approaches used in the field of emergency response.

ACM Trans. Cyber-Phys. Syst.