Evacuation Software Finds Best Way to Route Millions of Vehicles
University of Arizona assistant professor of civil engineering Yi-Chang Chiu has been developing Multi-Resolution Assignment and Loading of Traffic Activities (MALTA), software designed to simulate large-scale evacuations during a disaster to help transportation officials determine the best traffic management strategy.
“Solving large-scale evacuation problems is overwhelming,” Chiu says. “No one can just sit down with a map and draw lines and figure out the best answer to problems like these.”
Chiu says MALTA reacts to a situation in real time, adjusting as the scenario changes. The software relies on detailed traffic census data collected by state and city transportation departments, as well as real-time traffic surveillance data.
Overall, the software predicts actions drivers may take, such as when they leave and what road they take, and adjusts for factors that may alter drivers’ plans, such as radio reports, congestion, and freeway message boards.
The program is also able to predict airborne hazards, such as toxic gas from a refinery fire. By using air-plume dispersion models and wind direction, speed, and temperature, the program can calculate health risks and potential casualties.
In addition, the program provides post-disaster assistance by helping officials make choices such as which highway to repair and open first.
Chiu says MALTA will be ready soon for state transportation and emergency medical agencies.
The next generation of MALTA uses parallel processing and is designed to run faster, handle larger networks, and respond minute-by-minute to real-time emergencies.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the University of Arizona (06/11/07); Stiles, Ed.