Optimizing Stadium Evacuation by Integrating Geo-Computation and Affordance Theory

Authors: Joslyn Zale*, University of Southern Mississippi, Bandana Kar, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Hazards and Vulnerability, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: evacuation, model, GIS, hazards, evacuation model, affordance theory
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study integrated geo-computation with affordance theory from perceptual psychology to optimize football stadium evacuation time. This approach accounts for evacuee characteristics: age, gender, physical fitness, alcohol consumption, and prior experience attending football games at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), evacuating from large, outdoor public places, and with hazard events.

Because football stadiums are considered part of the critical infrastructure in the United States according to the USA PATRIOT Act, evacuation modeling has been identified as an important component of emergency preparedness to protect audiences and the stadium itself during extreme events. To undertake the study, prior to a home game, a questionnaire was administered to attendees to gather evacuee attribute data that influenced locomotion speed. This survey data, combined with other geospatial data (i.e., road networks, exit points within the stadium, seat arrangements, etc.), were used in an agent-based model to determine evacuation routes and assess optimum evacuation time. Evacuation of 100% of the audience (i.e., 36,000 fans) from USM’s stadium required 165.16 minutes. This time was significantly shorter than evacuation times from the same location using non-location-specific evacuee locomotion speeds, suggesting that use of local data is vital to accurately depicting evacuation time. The findings also indicated that age and gender were the two main factors that impacted locomotion speeds.

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