Last week, we, Daniel Formolo and Natalie van der Wal, won the best paper award at the International Conference on Computational Intelligence (ICCCI2017) for our paper “Simulating Collective Evacuations with Social Elements” (download). We are very happy that our peers recognise the need for including socio-cultural factors in evacuation models and our approach. The aim is to make more realistic evacuation models and ultimately save more lives.
The week before, at the final stakeholder meeting, Natalie van der Wal and colleagues got lots of praise for their socio-cultural crowd models. More than 60 stakeholders from safety and security domains across Europe and public transport sectors attended the meeting in Rome. EU project IMPACT is ending October 2017 and the final results were presented. Natalie van der Wal was responsible for leading the development of the crowd models simulating people in emergency situations, taking into account factors such as: helping, falling, travelling in groups, traveller type and social contagion of emotions and knowledge. Socio-cultural factors can account for up to 30% of evacuation time and emotional contagion can accelerate the frustration process in stranded passengers. The crowd models can be used by transport operators, emergency managers and policy makers to see what would happen in different situations with different crowd compositions and choose best solutions at an early design stage. The crowd models were also used to test the effectiveness of new emergency communication solutions.