BACKGROUND: Planning for a natural disaster necessarily includes a plan for moving people out of that disaster area, whether in anticipation of a weather disaster that can be forecast ahead of time like a hurricane, or in response to something like an earthquake. In the latter case, decisions need to be made quickly, which is the scenario on which Dr. Chiu's research focuses. His software can react to situations in real time, and is based on real traffic data showing how drivers navigate obstacles and delays. The model considers variables such as when drivers are likely to take to the roads and the likelihood that they will be listening to news updates on the radio. It can even be combined with airborne hazard models to show how drivers would respond to a plume of dangerous gases
TRAFFIC FLOW: Scientists studying traffic's ebb and flow create complex mathematical models in order to simulate the actual patterns that emerge on roads. These models are an important part of efforts to improve the placement or timing of various items like traffic lights, additional lanes, and more. The scientists use insights developed from sources as diverse as the physics of fluid flow and human reaction time in order to build better models and glean insights from them.
The American Society of Civil Engineers, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.