New Evacuation Management Tool
University of Minnesota Computer Science professor Shashi Shekhar continues to develop new breakthrough research in the application of GIS to emergency management. An earlier story in this newsletter (Spring 2004, p. 42) described his plans for evacuating the area around the Monticello nuclear plant in the event of an accident.
Shekar has recently developed a web-based tool to help emergency managers develop evacuation plans for any disaster at any location in the Twin Cities. This work was sponsored by Mn/DOT and developed in consultation with state, federal, and local government law enforcement and emergency management officials. This project recently received the 2006 Research Partnership Award from the Center for Transportation Studies. See http://www.cts.umn.edu/news/report/2006/05/EvacuationProject.html
Shekhar presented his work at the April MetroGIS Policy Board meeting. The PowerPoint slides used in that presentation and other material are available at http://www.metrogis.org/teams/pb/meetings/06_0419/evacuation.htm
This portion of a graphic from the MetroGIS meeting illustrates that the tool’s algorithms scale to a large scenario of 1.3 million evacuees.
One of the surprising findings is that walking is sometimes the fastest way to evacuate a specific location, such as the Mall of America. The Pioneer Press had a story this past March about Shekhar and this finding.