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Quicker and safer tsunami evacuations

Project Period: November 2017 - October 2019

Project Funders: Natural Hazards Research Platform

Organisations: GNS Science, Massey University, East Coast LAB, University of Canterbury

Project Location: East Coast of New Zealand's North Island


Coastal communities throughout New Zealand are vulnerable to local source tsunamis that could inundate low-lying areas in a matter of minutes. It is important to ensure that these communities are aware of their risk and know how to prepare and respond to these events. Agent-based tsunami evacuation modelling is an approach to the simulation of the movement of people during an evacuation event. This approach improves on other methods for estimating evacuation times due to a better representation of the range of different characteristics in the population (walking speed, decision speed), and can incorporate the effects of agent interactions, such as the effects of congestion and the increased likelihood of evacuation when others are seen to be evacuating. This technique is in an early stage of development globally, and there are no standard software packages adapted to this specific problem. Our aim is to develop an agent-based approach to simulating the tsunami evacuation response, including culture-specific community feedback, which will allow emergency managers to most efficiently prepare the population for tsunami events and improve required evacuation infrastructure.