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Agent-Based Simulation of Building Evacuation after an Earthquake: Coupling Human Behavior with Structural Response

TitleAgent-Based Simulation of Building Evacuation after an Earthquake: Coupling Human Behavior with Structural Response
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsLiu, Z, Jacques, CC, Szyniszewski, S, Guest, JK, Schafer, BW, Igusa, T, Mitrani-Reiser, J
JournalNatural Hazards Review
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number15276988 (ISSN)
KeywordsAgent based simulation, Architectural design, Autonomous agents, Behavioral research, Buildings, Computational methods, Dynamic finite element model, Earthquakes, Evacuation strategy, Finite element method, Geophysics, Multiple buildings, Office buildings, Physical environments, Probabilistic modeling, Social sciences, Structural behaviors, Structural response

The safety of building occupants during and immediately after disasters, such as a major earthquake, is highly dependent on the way in which people interact with the damaged physical environment. While there are extensive studies on evacuation from undamaged structures and on structural behavior under seismic and other hazards, research on the influence of building damage on human evacuation behavior is limited. This study presents a framework by which models for buildings and human behavior can be coupled to analyze the dynamic influences of building damage on the evacuation process. The framework combines nonlinear dynamic finite-element modeling of structures, probabilistic modeling of damage, and agent-based modeling of human occupants to investigate the behavior of people as they interact with each other and with their dynamically-deteriorating environment as they attempt to evacuate the building. A case study is presented for a typical three-story commercial office building subjected to the ground motions of the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake. By using exit flow rates and other measures related to evacuation time histories as the outcomes of interest, it is shown how the proposed framework can be used as a tool to enhance building design and to develop recommendations for improved evacuation strategies. An important future extension of the work is expanding the framework for multiple buildings for community-wide models of postdisaster behavior. © 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers.