Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Kenichi Soga, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interist of Society Researcher Louise Comfort, Postdoctoral Researcher Bingyu Zhao, and Civil and Environmental Engineering Students Paola Lorusso and Sena Soysal recently published a paper documenting their findings on how to integrate traffic network analysis and communications to improve wildfire evacuations: Integrating Traffic Network Analysis and Communication Network Analysis at a Regional Scale to Support More Efficient Evacuations in Response to a Wildfire Event.
Abstract: As demonstrated by the Camp Fire evacuation, communications (city-to-city, city-to-residents) play important roles in coordinating traffic operations and safeguarding region-wide evacuation processes in wildfire events. This collaborative report across multiple domains (fire, communication and traffic), documents a series of simulations and findings of the wildfire evacuation process for resource-strapped towns in Northern California. It consists of: (1) meteorological and vegetation-status dependent fire spread simulation (cellular automata model); (2) agency-level and agency-to-residents communication simulation (system dynamics model); and (3) dynamic traffic assignment (spatial-queue model). Two case studies are conducted: one for the town of Paradise (and the surrounding areas) and another for the community of Bolinas. The data and models are based on site visits and interviews with local agencies and residents. The integrated simulation framework is used to assess the interdependencies among the natural environment, the evacuation traffic and the communication networks from an interdisciplinary point of view, to determine the performance requirements to ensure viable evacuation strategies under urgent, dynamic wildfire conditions. The case study simulations identify both potential traffic and communication bottlenecks. This research supports integrating fire, communication and traffic simulation into evacuation performance assessments.