Simulation Evacuation Modeling of a Commercial Shopping District to Safe Zones

March 2013 (VOL. 31, NO. 1)

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Commercial shopping districts offer challenges for emergency planners to plan for the evacuation of short-notice emergency events. This paper illustrates a simulation analysis of the evacuation a large commercial shopping district, which focuses on street and parking lot vehicle traffic. Microscopic simulation is used to track the behaviors of vehicles evacuating from parking lots to safe zones. Evacuation scenarios investigate evacuation strategies by varying factors involving the occupancy rate of parking lots, inbound traffic control, and destination assignment policy. The performance of the evacuating vehicles is measured by an evacuation risk profile including the most problematic parking lots in terms of evacuation time. A trade-off analysis illustrates the effectiveness of the evacuation strategies in terms of costs, time, and risk. The simulation results indicate that an optimized destination assignment policy can alleviate traffic congestion and reduce total evacuation time.