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Emergency Response


EvacMYTC: A Real-time Inside Building Evacuation Management Toolset
Proceedings of National Evacuation Conference, New Orleans, February 3-5, 2010

Extreme events taken place in high-rise buildings over recent years have drawn researchers' attention to both theoretical and practical concerns of evacuation and emergency response in critical facilities. Extreme events such as terror attacks, fires, explosions, toxic material releases, and radiological and biological accidents often occur unexpectedly, and thus entail huge loss of life and wealth. High-rise buildings are vulnerable to these extreme events or during emergency situations.
U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to have an emergency action plan if there are more than 10 employees in workplace (USDOL, 2009). It is regulated that evacuation plans should be prepared and implemented for high-rise buildings to facilitate and organize occupants' actions during emergencies. Evacuation routes and exits should be reviewed and updated as pre-event emergency preparedness. These evacuation routes and exits should guide the movement of occupants from their places to safe gathering area (either inside or outside) during the events.
Unfortunately, within high-rise buildings, not only does the complexity of building structures make difficult for visitors to follow evacuation routes and exits, but also the dynamic uncertainty at emergency inside the building complicate the evacuation for evacuees. The structural complexity and emergent uncertainty underscore an urgent need for software applications that can be used to create functional evacuation routes in preparedness and to revise or develop practical evacuation routes to reflect emerging uncertainties on the scene.
Many studies have been conducted on emergency responses inside high-rise buildings. Pelechano and Malkawi (2008) use agent-based technology to simulate human behaviors in emergency situations. Park et al (2009) propose an approach of creating time-dependent ingress paths from entrances to the incident site with consideration of changing conditions inside a building. Lee (2007) proposes a 3D navigable data model to support emergency response inside tall buildings. In fact, there is a growing literature concerning 3D GIS data models in the context of emergency management and crime prevention (Lee, 2004; Lee and Kwan, 2005; Kwan and Lee, 2005). 3D GIS has been an important research area over the last two decades. Various topological models for representing 3D objects and their spatial relationships have been developed. The most relevant types of topological data models in the context of allowing for 3D spatial query, analysis, and visualization of the subunits and internal network structure of "micro-spatial environments" are feature-based 3D data models (Pigot 1995, Pigot and Hazelton 1992, Rikkers et al. 1994). These models are largely based on boundary representations or B-Rep (Raper 2000). Examples of topological data models based on B-Rep include the 3D formal data structure (FDS) developed by Molenaar (1990), the GOCAD system developed by Mallet (1990), the tetrahedral network (TEN) introduced by Pilouk (1996), the simplified spatial model (SSM) designed by Zlatanova (2000), the urban data model (UDM) developed by Coors (2003), and the combinatorial data model (CDM) with an attempt to overcome the aforementioned shortcomings in implementation by Lee and Kwan (2005).

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