FICO Data Scientist on Team Honoured for Work on Optimizing Drinking Water Access

FICO’s Selene Silvestri is part of team that won international award for an article on optimizing access to drinking water in remote regions from Nepal

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LONDON, 30 August 2022 –

A team of four researchers including FICO’s Selene Silvestri has been awarded the SEIO-BBVA prize for the best applied contribution in operational research. The team won for its article on optimizing access to drinking water in the remote areas of Nepal. The Spanish Society of Statistics and Operations Research (SEIO) and the BBVA Foundation grant these annual awards for particularly significant scientific contributions in statistics and operations research.

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Gilbert Laporte, Marie-Ève ​​Rancourt, Jessica Rodríguez-Pereira and Selene Silvestri won the SEIO-BBVA prize for the best applied contribution in operational research, for an article that appeared in the April 2022 edition of the journal Computers & Operations Research. They presented the design of a water distribution network with an example of application in Nepal, which suffered drinking water supply problems following earthquakes in 2015.

“This is an ideal problem for mathematical optimization, as it involves clear objectives, a set of constraints and a massive amount of data,” said Selene Silvestri, who helps FICO partners and their customers around the world gain from FICO’s optimization tools. “There are millions of possible solutions to this problem, and through optimization we are able to crunch through those and identify the most effective ones.”

In solving the problem, the team addressed the location of water taps to ensure good coverage of the population and the connection of these taps to drinking water sources through a network of pipes.

“Access to clean drinking water is a global priority,” Silvestri said. “Our team chose to tackle it as it is highly relevant to how remote communities rebuild and restore access after a disaster such as the Nepal earthquake. The work we did to solve the complex water network structure can benefit other regions as well.”

The annual SEIO-BBVA awards recognize originality, innovation and contributions in Statistics and Operations Research, with the dual aim of encouraging research work in these two fields and its projection to society.

“Selene and her teammates, all associated with HEC Montréal, have done important research into a life-threatening problem,” said Matt Cox, head of FICO in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Their work demonstrates the incredible power of mathematical optimization, also known as prescriptive analytics, and operations research. Congratulations to the team on their work and their award!”

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FICO (NYSE: FICO) powers decisions that help people and businesses around the world prosper. Founded in 1956, the company is a pioneer in the use of predictive analytics and data science to improve operational decisions. FICO holds 205 US and foreign patents on technologies that increase profitability, customer satisfaction and growth for businesses in financial services, telecommunications, health care, retail and many other industries. Using FICO solutions, businesses in more than 120 countries do everything from protecting 2.6 billion payment cards from fraud, to helping people get credit, to ensuring that millions of airplanes and rental cars are in the right place at the right time. 

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