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Evacuating a city is a complex problem that involves issues of governance, preparedness education, warning, information sharing, population dynamics, resilience and recovery. As natural and anthropogenic threats to cities grow, it is an increasingly pressing problem for policy makers and practitioners.

The book is the result of a unique interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers in the physical and social sciences to consider how an interdisciplinary approach can help plan for large scale evacuations. It draws on perspectives from physics, mathematics, organisation theory, economics, sociology and education. Importantly it goes beyond disciplinary boundaries and considers how interdisciplinary methods are necessary to approach a complex problem involving human actors and increasingly complex communications and transportation infrastructures.

Using real world case studies and modelling the book considers new approaches to evacuation dynamics. It addresses questions of complexity, not only in terms of theory, but examining the latest challenges for cities and emergency responders. Factors such as social media, information quality and visualisation techniques are examined to consider the ‘new’ dynamics of warning and informing, evacuation and recovery.



City Evacuations: Their Pedagogy and the Need for an Inter-disciplinary Approach

We consider an overview of city evacuation policy with particular reference to the United Kingdom and using a conceptual framework which considers evacuations and invacuations to be pedagogical. Taking an historical perspective, with a focus on the United Kingdom, the chapter considers the reasons for a gradual move from a policy of city evacuation in WWII towards an ‘invacuation’ policy in the Cold War. It then explores more recent policies of ‘flexible response’ to a range of contingencies with mixed invacuation/evacuation policies being proposed. We illustrate this with an examination of websites for evacuation/invacuation preparedness in UK cities. Recent trends in mobility, social media and communication technologies present increasing interdisciplinary problems for evacuation modelling.
John Preston, Magdalini Kolokitha

Unpacking the Impacts of Social Media Upon Crisis Communication and City Evacuation

In the UK National Security Strategy it was argued that networks, including those facilitated by social networking technologies, could impact upon security as a wide range of ideas could easily proliferate (2010, p. 16). As indicated in Chap. “City Evacuations:​ their pedagogy and the need for an inter-disciplinary approach”, crisis communication is a vital aspect of effectively managing large-scale evacuations. This chapter therefore examines the implications of this new ‘mass of connections’ in the context of evacuation. It draws upon data from three highly varied UK city locations in order to examine the impact of social networking technologies upon official (i.e. first responder, local authority or national government led) emergency communication strategies. The chapter specifically addresses two inter-related findings: the opportunities for and threats to official crisis communication that emerge from the introduction and uptake of social networking technologies and the re-configuration of crisis information exchange between government, traditional media and citizens. The chapter concludes by offering a range of policy and practice recommendations focused upon improving communication strategies in the context of evacuation.
Layla J. Branicki, Doreen A. Agyei

Simulation of Information Spreading Following a Crisis

In this chapter we consider how information about a crisis spreads. We consider scenarios, and models thereof, which are variants of the susceptible/infected model from epidemiology. The populace is initially unaware that a crisis has occurred. When the crisis begins, awareness that a crisis has occurred spreads throughout the populace via a combination of broadcast media and social feedback; eventually the entire populace becomes aware of the crisis. We investigate transitions in our models from a completely unaware populace to a completely aware populace, focusing particularly on the speed of the process and the relative impact of different media types. Our models’ behaviour depends heavily on the input parameters which dictate the strengths of different spreading mechanisms. As much as possible we draw values for these parameters from real data. These parameters vary significantly depending on the time of day. For example, the number of people who become aware almost immediately because they are tuned in to broadcast media when the crisis occurs ranges from about 2 % to about 47 %. In addition, the timescale on which an alert unfolds means that our models should incorporate dynamic parameters, i.e., parameters that change as the alert unfolds. With regard to the relative impact of different media types in our models, we note that, within our model, social media such as Facebook and Twitter are much less important than traditional media, primarily by virtue of their smaller audience and less frequent use. We also identify a critical timescale: the length of time it takes someone with the TV/Radio on to realize there is a crisis and then to relate it to someone else. This realize-and-relate timescale is likely to have an important role in shaping the early course of events in daytime crisis spreading.
James King, Nick Jones

Quantitative Decision-Making Rules for the Next Generation of Smarter Evacuations

In this chapter we discuss the mathematical modelling of the next generation of smarter evacuations. Alongside a burgeoning literature on resilience we formulate a quantitative decision-making framework through which Social Media can be used to deliver more efficient evacuations. Our approach is flexible and improves upon existing models by allowing incoming information to be incorporated sequentially. Further, our model is the first of its kind to consider the effects of information quality (including abuse) and over-crowding upon network systems. In a high-quality information regime the potential benefits of Social Media increase as the size of the potential delays increases. Simulation results show that by not using updated information, as proposed in this study, final evacuation times are increased by 20 % and in some cases can be more than doubled. In a low-quality regime Social Media provides noisy information and other alternatives—including random allocation strategies and peer-to-peer communication—may be more effective.
John Fry, Tobias Galla, Jane M Binner

Decentralized Optimisation of Resource Allocation in Disaster Management

A resource-allocation problem derived from a scenario in disaster management is studied using computer simulations of game theoretic learning algorithms. Specifically we consider a scenario in which a number of incidents occur in an emergency, and where multiple resources need to be delivered to each incident by a limited number of carriers. Assuming that communication with a central decision maker is disrupted we map the scenario to a problem in game theory, and use several learning rules, based on the celebrated fictitious play algorithm to find optimal solutions.
Michalis Smyrnakis, Tobias Galla

A Semi-automated Display for Geotagged Text

The changing dynamic of crisis management suggests that we should be leveraging social media and accessible geotagged text data to assist with making emergency evacuations more effective and increasing the efficiency of emergency first responders. This chapter presents a preliminary visualization tool for automatically clustering geotagged text data, and visualizing such data contextually, graphically, and geographically. Such a tool could be used to allow emergency management personnel to quickly assess the scope and location of a current crisis, and to quickly summarize the state of affairs. Discussion herein includes details about the clustering algorithm, design and implementation of the visualization, and ideas for improving the utility for use in a variety of circumstances.
Vincent A. Schmidt, Jane M Binner

Conclusion: Evacuations and Transmedia Vulnerability

This chapter brings together findings from previous chapters to consider the vulnerability of evacuations to transmedia attacks or pranks. Although the use of social media in infrastructure disruption or terrorism has been considered the implications of transmedia attacks have not. Transmedia refers to the use of storytelling across multiple media. In terms of the evolution of terrorism there has been a movement from a reliance on old media to spread a political message to an old/social media mix that has antecedents of transmedia storytelling. Using research on the United Kingdom warning and informing system, and research on mass population response involving social media, I consider the vulnerabilities in this system to transmedia disruptions and attacks. I illustrate this through a fictitious scenario of a ‘dirty bomb’ attack on Manchester city centre. In the conclusion to the paper I consider the implications of transmedia terrorism for resilience through examining it pedagogically. I argue that transmedia terrorism can be considered to be pedagogically diverse as it makes use of various different methods of learning. Although this may mean lead one to consider that resilience is also a transmedia matter I consider that the didactic nature of state information and visceral forms of street level resilience are superior areas for building resilience against such attacks. I also conclude by restating the need for inter-disciplinary research in this area.
John Preston
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