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Improving Emergency Evacuation Planning With Decision-Making Simulation

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Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a disaster-response planning tool that uses real-time human decision-making to determine effective law-enforcement strategies during evacuations. "This new model could help government entities train first responders and determine the best policies to put in place to prepare for emergencies," says Michigan professor Judy Jin.

The simulation model is designed for pedestrian traffic and demonstrates to emergency planners how the number of police officers on the scene affects the speed of evacuation, and how the percentage of tourists in a given area can slow down the process. The researchers ran simulations of 500 people escaping from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., after a bomb explosion, with the goal of investigating how increasing the number of police officers or local residents in a given area would affect evacuation times.

In the simulations, as the number of police officers increased from 10 to 100, the evacuation time of tourists decreased by about 25 percent. With an increase from 10 to 200 in the number of local residents who would likely serve as leaders in emergency situations, evacuation time decreased by 10 percent.

From University of Michigan
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