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Grant to Fund Creation of Evacuation Model for National Capital Region

Mike Robinson, associate director of Old Dominion University's Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions (CITS), has received a grant from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to help with the creation of a real-time evacuation model for the National Capital Region.

Robinson, research assistant professor at ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC), will lead a project to use modeling and simulation techniques in the $1.2 million project, of which $300,000 is ODU's share.

The research will advance the planning for and execution of a safe evacuation of Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area in the event of an attack by terrorists, such as the release of toxic gas or the detonation of a dirty bomb.

Robinson said VMASC will expand upon the work of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to improve the capability of the Real Time Evacuation Planning Model, which was originally developed by for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate.

"VMASC will test, demonstrate and assess the use of (the model) as a planning model for an evacuation following a man-made event in the National Capital Region," Robinson said. "Additionally, VMASC will prepare and provide training workshops to selected emergency management professionals on the use of the Real Time Evacuation Planning Model, and will complete critical verification and validation testing."

The Real Time Evacuation Planning Model was developed in response to emergency managers' desire for an easy to use, quick tool to estimate the time required to evacuate an area in response to a natural or man-made disaster, including hurricanes, nuclear power plant disasters, wildfires, floods (including dam breaks) and hazardous material incidents. The model was developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The creation of an emergency plan for evacuation of the National Capital Region initially was conceived in two phases, with the first using static data injection for planning evacuations, and the second expanding the static mode and adding a dynamic mode to enhance capability and flexibility. A third phase, incorporating bus and rail mass transit, has since been proposed. To date, only the first phase has been completed and the Real time Evacuation Planning Model, though capable of modeling evacuations from multiple disasters, has been primarily used for hurricane evacuations.

Robinson said the grant, which runs through the end of May 2013, is an opportunity to utilize some of the real-time evacuation modeling and simulation principles utilized in the creation of the hurricane evacuation simulations developed by VMASC for Hampton Roads over the past five years.

VMASC is a university-wide multidisciplinary research center that emphasizes modeling, simulation and visualization research, development and education.

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