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Evacuations, Space Programs and Game Theory...  

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dcwilson
(@dcwilson)
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Joined: 13 years ago
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25/06/2007 4:03 am  

Are any architects using game theory to help solve space programming problems. If so, I would like to read any papers written about it.

For example, when designing public spaces for emergency evacuations, game theory might help significantly in analysing where to put the emergency exit doors and how wide they need to be. Evacuation can quickly become nonlinearly competitive, i.e., panic can and usually does break out. Panic is a form of competition. Player choices in a competitive environment often differ significantly from those in a non competitive environment. If architects and building engineers design buildings or stadiums for orderly, noncompetitive evacuations, and if evacuations were orderly and noncompetitive, then there maybe a configuration of halls, stairs and door widths that would be highly rational and efficient for that scenario. But what if evacuations were chaotic and competitive; i.e., the quick, survival choices of some alter opportunity set of evacuation choices for the remaining persons. The remaining persons would begin to view orderly evacutation as a futile play and begin pushing and shoving. In this scenario, would the same hall, door. stair width and location make sense? I suspect not, but am not sure, as I have not gamed it, nor have I studied evacuation events close enough to know.

Again if anyone has heard of any thing on this subject I would appreciate a link or citation.


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SDR
 SDR
(@sdr)
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25/06/2007 8:35 am  

It may seem
overly simplistic to say so, but the only really effective exit strategy that would satisfy the panicking crowd would be the widest possible set of doors, no ? After all, your excellent description of the mindset of the panicker points to "I want to get to the door NOW !" -- regardless of circumstances (like 50 or 200 people in the way). So -- have doors "everywhere."
Does this require elaborate theory, or is it more of a straightforward architectural problem ?


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SDR
 SDR
(@sdr)
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dcwilson
(@dcwilson)
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25/06/2007 11:27 am  

Well, I recently had a conversation with someone...
that said he had heard about some somewhat counter intuitive results regarding door sizes and escape routes related to cultural differences. He said he had heard that some study or other indicated that Asians, Americans and Europeans responded differently to different door sizes for emergency exits. But when I asked him where he read this he could not recall. So that is why I posed the question to the group.
In regards to your comment, I do think you are quite right that when a structure permits doors everywhere, say, in a convention center where the entire building perimeter on the first floor could be doored; then putting doors everywhere allows the panic stricken to flee in every direction and thus minimize competition. But as one moves toward taller structures, like office buildings, where there simply is going to be a scarcity of doors for the number of panicky persons likely, unless standards are drastically rewritten, then one would think that there may be quite alot of nonlinear dynamics that come into play as large numbers of persons begin to behave something like water in a swollen river, where irregurities in a bank or bed can create chaotic eddies down stream that have infinite variation with in limits, or strange tendancies, if you will. Perhaps I am getting too arcane, but ever since I watched those poor souls leaping out of WTC I and II, I have felt society needed to invest more in understanding space programming dynamics during catastrophies. I know that it is possible, perhaps even likely that the WTC towers were a controlled demolition in a false flag scenario and so nothing could necessarily have helped, but if the buildings really were downed by two jet liners, well, we just need to know how to design buildings and public places to help people deal with nonlinear competition (i.e., panic) in mass evacuations efficiently.
Afterall, ABC is saying Al Qaeda has dispatched bombers to USA, Canada, UK and Germany recently. It seems to me that whether the bombers are real terrorists, or just a false flag operation to spur support for more war, the risk of these kinds of events no longer seems miniscule. And while an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, what are the chances of stopping all of the terrorists and all of the false flaggers all of the time?
And then when you add in all of the conventional disasters that can befall structures, and the occasional need to evacuate commercial jets, etc., it just seems prudent to give game theoretic analysis of mass evacuation a consideration, if it hasn't already been done.


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dcwilson
(@dcwilson)
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25/06/2007 11:34 am  

SDR, thanks for the NYT story link...
This story gets at what I am trying suggest. Persons are coming up with rational, linear solutions to solve problems but do they realize they are looking at behavior that may be highly irrational and nonlinear in the event of an catastrophy and an evacuation? Should the stairs be clustered, or dispersed. Where are panicky persons most likely to find stairs in a disaster? Will wider doors and stairs accelerate eggress, or will it create more of a stampede effect? And so on.


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NULL NULL
(@zwipamoohotmail-com)
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Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 277
26/06/2007 3:17 am  

a few years ago
there was a disaster here in belgium, in a little town called ghislenghien (where i used to live for 17 years). On a new industry zone, while digging a gaspipeline was hit and exploded, flame was more then 200 meters high. People in surrounding buildings heard the explosion, didn't knew what was happening and ran for the exit emergency doors, outside they were burned. a friend of mine couldn't get out of the building where she was working, because of the explosion the building shaked and the doors were jammed and couldn't get open, this probably saved her life. So lesson; people in panic, not knowing what is happening run for the doors even when the real danger is outside and when it would be safer tostay inside.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghislenghien


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dcwilson
(@dcwilson)
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26/06/2007 7:46 am  

gerrit...
this is a terribly sad story, but a perfect example of what I am trying to get at. Design and engineering perhaps need to begin to study panic behavior, or what I called non linear competitiveness. It seems to me that there could be developed a whole series of heuristics about how persons behave in these situations and then begin designing systems that anticipate this behavior. For example, what if the emergency doors had sensors that took temperatures on both sides of the door? When the temperature on the outside of the door was greater than inside by some rather dangerous increment, the doors locked. But when the temperature inside was higher than the temperature outside by some dangerous increment, the doors unlocked. Then when paniced persons ran into a system where the outside temperature was dangerous, the locked door countered their panic response, but when it was hotter inside, then it honored their panic response.
In this day and age, there are probably materials that would require no batteries and electrical connection, kind of like the thermocouple in a Hobbs tea kettle that could be imbedded in doors and perhaps open and close a dead bolt independent of what was going on with the rest of the electrical system.


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dcwilson
(@dcwilson)
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26/06/2007 8:26 am  

gerrit...
I'd didn't mean to sound like a know it all above. I'm sure there are a lot of studies on this by persons far smarter than me. I began this thread just trying to see if anyone had read anything on the subject game theoretic analysis of panic behavior in evacuation situations. You would think the military and emergency management organizations would have done a lot of this. Its probably out there and I just don't know about it.


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