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A Computational Framework Incorporating Human and Social Behaviors for Occupant-centric Egress Simulation

TitleA Computational Framework Incorporating Human and Social Behaviors for Occupant-centric Egress Simulation
Publication TypeTechnical Report
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsChu, MLing, Parigi, P, Law, K, Latombe, J-C
Date Published01/2015
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsCenter for Integrated Facility Engineering, Crowd behaviors, Design, Egress, Emergency evacuation, Human and social behaviors, Simulation, Stanford University
AbstractEmergency evacuation (egress) is an important issue in safety design of buildings. Studies of catastrophic incidents have highlighted the need to consider occupants’ behaviors for better understanding of evacuation patterns. Although egress outcomes are influenced by human and social factors, quantifying these factors in design codes and standards is difficult because occupants’ characteristics and emergency scenarios vary widely. As an alternative, computational egress simulation tools have been used to evaluate egress designs. However, most of current simulation tools oversimplify the behavioral aspects of evacuees. This thesis describes a flexible computational framework that incorporates human and social behaviors in simulations to aid occupant-centric egress design. Based on the analysis of literature in social science and disaster studies, the design requirements of SAFEgress (Social Agents For Egress), an agent-based simulation framework, are derived. In SAFEgress, the agent’s decision-making process, the representation of the egress environment and the occupants, and the algorithms that emulate human capabilities in perception and navigation are carefully designed to simulate group dynamics and social interactions. A series of validation tests has been conducted to verify the capability of the framework to model a wide range of behaviors. Case studies of a museum and a stadium show that considering group navigation could cause additional bottlenecks on egress routes, thus prolong evacuation. On the other hand, by strategically arranging stewards to control crowd flow, evacuation time can be significantly improved. SAFEgress provides a means to systematically evaluate the effects of human and social factors on egress performance in buildings and facilities. Using the simulation results, facility managers and designers can develop occupant-centric solutions to crowd problems by addressing different scenarios and unique occupants’ characteristics. Furthermore, the framework could be applied to support research in social science to investigate the collective behaviors of crowds in a built environment.
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