Mike Robinson, associate director of ODU’s Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions (CITS), received a grant from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to help create a real-time evacuation model for the National Capital Region.
Also a research assistant professor at the school’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center (VMASC), Robinson will use modeling and simulation techniques in the $1.2 million project, $300,000 of which is ODU’s share.
Dr. Robinson currently leads a study of suggested transportation construction projects for the Hampton Roads region and explores the different alternative’s effectiveness of reducing the congestion issues today and ones that are expected to hit in 2034. He also leads a study that proposes a toll road connecting Hampton Roads and the Richmond-Petersburg area alongside the US Corridor.
The s project examines the proposed road’s impact on freight movement. Previous research includes the Commonwealth of Virginia-funded project to model the Hampton Roads region evacuation, studies for the state’s Department of Transportation, and as the transportation modeling and simulation leader for a US Department of Labor Economic Development Assistance grant to spur southeastern Virginia’s economy.
The research will advance a plan to execute a safe evacuation of the Washington, D.C. area in the event of a terrorist attack, such as the release of toxic gas or dirty bomb detonation.
Robinson said VMASC plans to expand the work of the John Hopkins University Applied Laboratory to assist the Real Time Evacuation Planning Model, originally developed for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.
“VMASC will test, demonstrate and assess the use of (the model) as a planning model for an evacuation following a man-made event in the National Capital Region,” said Robinson.
“Additionally, VMASC will prepare and provide training workshops to select emergency management professionals on the use of the Real Time Evacuation Planning Model, and will complete critical verification and validation testing.”
The real-time model was developed in response to emergency managers’ desire for a quick, easy to use tool to estimate time needed for evacuating an area in response to a natural or man-made disaster, including hurricanes, nuclear power plant disasters, wildfire floods and dam breaks, and hazardous material incidents. The model was developed by the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory.
The creation of an emergency plan for evacuation of the NCR initially was conceived in two phases: the first using static data injection for planning evacuations and the second to expand the static mode and to add a dynamic mode to enhance capability and flexibility. A third phase has since been proposed to incorporate bus and rail mass transit. However, only one phase to date has been completed and has been primarily used for hurricane evacuations.
The grant runs through the end of May 2013 and is an opportunity to practice some of the real-time evacuation and simulation principles utilized in the creation of hurricane evacuation simulations developed by VMASC for the Hampton Roads region over the past five years.
VMASC is a university-wide multidisciplinary research center emphasizing modeling, simulation and visualization research, development and education.
Robinson is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds a Master’s degree in physics from the Naval Postgrad School in Monterey, California. Robinson also completed his Ph.D. in Modeling and Simulation at ODU. His other research interests include decision modeling and emergency planning and decision-making.
By: Brian Jerry