An operational research-based integrated approach for mass evacuation planning of a city

  • Magesh Nagarajan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Large-scale disasters are constantly occurring around the world, and in many cases evacuation of regions of city is needed. ‘Operational Research/Management Science’ (OR/MS) has been widely used in emergency planning for over five decades. Warning dissemination, evacuee transportation and shelter management are three ‘Evacuation Support Functions’ (ESF) generic to many hazards. This thesis has adopted a case study approach to illustrate the importance of integrated approach of evacuation planning and particularly the role of OR/MS models.
In the warning dissemination phase, uncertainty in the household’s behaviour as ‘warning
informants’ has been investigated along with uncertainties in the warning system. An agentbased
model (ABM) was developed for ESF-1 with households as agents and ‘warning informants’ behaviour as the agent behaviour. The model was used to study warning
dissemination effectiveness under various conditions of the official channel.
In the transportation phase, uncertainties in the household’s behaviour such as departure time (a function of ESF-1), means of transport and destination have been. Households could evacuate as pedestrians, using car or evacuation buses. An ABM was developed to study the evacuation performance (measured in evacuation travel time).
In this thesis, a holistic approach for planning the public evacuation shelters called ‘Shelter Information Management System’ (SIMS) has been developed. A generic allocation framework of was developed to available shelter capacity to the shelter demand by
considering the evacuation travel time. This was formulated using integer programming. In the sheltering phase, the uncertainty in household shelter choices (either
nearest/allocated/convenient) has been studied for its impact on allocation policies using
sensitivity analyses.
Using analyses from the models and detailed examination of
household states from ‘warning to safety’, it was found that the three ESFs though sequential in time, however have lot of interdependencies from the perspective of evacuation planning. This thesis has illustrated an OR/MS based integrated approach including and beyond single ESF preparedness. The developed approach will help in understanding the inter-linkages of the three evacuation phases and preparing a multi-agency-based evacuation planning evacuation
Date of Award14 Feb 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPavel Albores (Supervisor) & Duncan A Shaw (Supervisor)


  • Agent-Based Models
  • Integer Programming
  • Warning Dissemination
  • Evacuee Transport Management,
  • Evacuation Shelter
  • Information Management

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