Past Participant Survey
Challenge Team Interim Report
Team Number: 056
School Name: GODDARD HIGH SCHOOL
Area of Science: TRAFFIC MODELING - EMERGENCY EGRESS
Project Title: Simulating Emergency Egress
Emergency evacuation or emergency egress is a major
concern in the construction and design of buildings.
It is difficult to know whether existing evacuation
plans are adequate to evacuate a large group of people
out of a building in an emergency. Physical
experimentation, with human volunteers, will provide
much of this information, but it presents ethical,
practical and financial problems. Human volunteers
are subject to injuries even though there is no real
emergency. Another problem with physical
experimentation is the lack of realism. The
volunteers know that they will be evacuating the
building after a certain signal, so the situation
lacks the surprise factor and the volunteers know that
there is no real danger. Therefore, a computer model
of an evacuating crowd could give a better picture of
the real situation.
In our research, we have found two methods for
modeling emergency egress, macroscopic and
microscopic. In a macroscopic approach, a crowd is no
longer looked upon as individuals but rather a single
object with density and velocity. In the microscopic
approach, the same crowd is made up of individuals
each with specific characteristics. Because we feel
it would be more realistic and interesting, we have
chosen the microscopic approach. Our research also
indicates that the microscopic method seems more
popular among professionals in the egress-modeling
field. Our microscopic model will create a class to
represent people, with each object of the class
representing one person. We have not yet decided if a
second class (for physical space) will be created.
Physical space may be addressed without a specific
class defined. Our model will make assumptions and
simplifications for individuals and physical space
based on our abilities, and our desire to model our
school's emergency egress reality.
Progress to Date:
Our team has extensively researched egress and human
behavior in urgent situations. From this, we learned
that some of our original ideas were too simple, or
too complex. Since then, we have not only had the
opportunity to interview the local fire inspector, but
also to contact a few experts on the subject.
Although we have received no response from the
experts, we have uncovered numerous reports that are
invaluable to the work we are doing. Most of the
reports we have found have explained behavioral
programming and helped us to better understand how
parameters and algorithms will make our program work.
We have discovered the existence of emergency egress
modeling software that is quite elaborate and
sophisticated. We had to make the decision whether to
attempt to use this existing software or create the
model by ourselves. Developing the model from scratch
is the path that we have decided to follow.
We expect our results to indicate problem areas during
emergency egress based on given conditions. The
conditions may include population density, level of
panic, time allowed for evacuation, obstacles, and
other factors. Our model will allow us to modify
conditions thereby permitting us to determine critical
factors that relate to efficient evacuations. Time
and programming capabilities may limit our model so
that we may not have as much detail as we would like.
Therefore, our model will describe general patterns of
egress and will match our school environment as well
as we can knowing that it must be simplified.