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Disseminating a warning message to evacuate : a simulation study of the behaviour of neighbours

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Elsevier Science BV
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Abstract

Large-scale evacuations are a recurring theme on news channels, whether in response to major natural or manmade disasters. The role of warning dissemination is a key part in the success of such large-scale evacuations and its inadequacy in certain cases has been a ‘primary contribution to deaths and injuries’ (Hayden et al., 2007). Along with technology-driven ‘official warning channels’ (e.g. sirens, mass media), the role of unofficial channel (e.g. neighbours, personal contacts, volunteer wardens) has proven to be significant in warning the public of the need to evacuate. Although post-evacuation studies identify the behaviours of evacuees as disseminators of the warning message, there has not been a detailed study that quantifies the effects of such behaviour on the warning message dissemination. This paper develops an Agent-Based Simulation (ABS) model of multiple agents (evacuee households) in a hypothetical community to investigate the impact of behaviour as an unofficial channel on the overall warning dissemination. Parameters studied include the percentage of people who warn their neighbours, the efficiency of different official warning channels, and delay time to warn neighbours. Even with a low proportion of people willing to warn their neighbour, the results showed considerable impact on the overall warning dissemination.

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