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From 9/11 to 2012: Using Computer Simulations to Model Mass Evacuations from Infrastructure Failures

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This talk begins with an analysis of the evacuation from the World Trade Center based on interviews and photographic evidence provided by NIST and the 9/11 Commission. The lessons learned from this and from other major disasters have important implications for the engineering processes that are used in many aspects of the construction industries. In particular, they suggest that we should pay more attention to the human behaviours that emerge in the aftermath of natural disasters and terrorist actions than to a regulatory framework that is based around counting the number of exit signs or measuring the width of fire exits. We will illustrate this argument by presenting a range of non-deterministic simulations that model the evacuation of ‘difficult’ structures including an NHS hospital, a Glasgow football stadium and an underground station. The talk will close by describing recent work to anticipate safety and security problems for the 2012 Olympic venues.

This talk is part of the Engineering Design Centre series.

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