Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EVACUATION (Testing communication strategies to save lives in emergency evacuation)
Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2020-02-29
Objectives. We took the novel approach of combining state of the art computer modeling with insights from risk communication to improve speed and survival in emergency evacuations. This project aimed to:
1. Identify which risk increasing behaviors occur in emergency evacuations and underlying causes (WP1).
2. Use models to identify communication strategies that improve evacuation time and survival (WP2).
3. Test communication strategies for improving evacuation time and survival in experiments (WP3).
Outcomes. Main findings show that (a) common risky evacuation behaviors that were experienced by the experts were delayed responses, taking a familiar route, running, filming the incident and collecting belonging, (b) it is most effective for evacuation time to have staff guidance with alarms sounding compared to alarms sounding only, based on real-world incidents, and (b) the simulation results showed that the effectiveness of different emergency communication strategies depend on crowd density and how familiar the crowd is with the environment and that ABM is useful to test new communications before applying them in the real-world. Based on the Supervisor’s expertise in risk communication and input from emergency service members, this resulted in recommendations to be tested in Aim 3 in an evacuation experiment. In this experiment, the fellow has used different emergency lighting systems from two Dutch companies (HEFAS and Isolectra) to test whether a dynamic directional light or a blinking sign can influence the route choice in comparison with no evacuation communication.
Knowledge transfer. The knowledge transfer between the supervisor and fellow has been very successful: the fellow gave 19 presentations, wrote 5 research blogs, 5 practitioner magazine articles, held 2 media interviews, 1 podcast, published 8 scientific articles, and submitted another 8 scientific articles. The fellow has reached her mid-term career goal through the MSCA and started a position from the 1st of September 2020 as Associate Professor in Systems Engineering and Simulations at the department of Multi-Actor Systems, Faculty Technology, Policy and Management, Delft university of Technology, the Netherlands. Here, the fellow can continue leading interdisciplinary research improving evacuations to ultimately save lives, as well as broaden her research portfolio by applying her research methods and skills to other areas, such as resilience and energy transition.
Dissemination and exploitation of results. The fellow has given presentations at five international scientific conference that attract researchers from different fields (decision science, crowd science, human factors, technological applications, computer scientists). In total, the fellow has given 1 keynote speaker presentation, 4 conference presentations, 10 guest seminars and workshops, and led 1 scientific conference session. The fellow has been invited as an expert on an international project developing a roadmap for evacuation drills, has submitted three H2020 project proposals and started many collaborations with world leading researchers and industry partners.
Societal impact. The fellow has made societal impact by communicating the solutions preventing risky behaviours to safety practitioners (police, firefighters, safety managers, crowd managers) via various workshops, online magazines, research blogs and one-on-one sessions. The fellow has also conducted an evacuation experiment using different emergency lighting systems from industry. The fellow has also helped safety practitioners with advising them on safety applications (evacuation time, evacuation routes) based on research findings (Dutch firefighters, Dutch crowd managers). The fellow has made an international impact on computer evacuation modelling, namely of showing the importance of including social factors (Van der Wal et al., 2020). The fellow has progressed the analyses and understanding of risky behaviors during evacuations with conducting video analyses, expert interviews, computer simulations and conducting an evacuation experiment. The main findings show that (a) it is most effective to have staff guidance with alarms sounding compared to alarms sounding only, based on real-world incidents, and (b) the simulation results showed that the effectiveness of different emergency communication strategies depend on crowd density and that ABM is useful to test new communications before applying them in the real-world. Based on the Supervisor’s expertise in risk communication and input from emergency service members, this resulted in recommendations to be tested in Aim 3 in an evacuation experiment.