DRU: Integrated Optimization of Evacuation and Mass Care Sheltering for Hurricanes
Principal Investigators: Rachel Davidson(PI), Tricia Wachtendorf (Co-PI); (With Linda Nozick (Co-PI); Cornell University)
This proposal seeks to improve understanding of and decision support for evacuation and mass case sheltering in hurricanes. In the past, math modeling in this application has been limited to estimating the time required to clear a region, assuming many characteristics of the problem are uncontrollable input (e.g., where shelters are located). Instead, we will expand the decision frame and use optimization models to support the full range of strategic and operational evacuation and sheltering decisions, with higher-level objectives such as minimizing life loss, cost, and inequity. These models will be developed through a tight interaction between sociologists and engineers to ensure that they are firmly grounded in the reality of people’s behavior. For the first time, the models will be based on individual hurricane scenarios instead of conservative aggregations of many events, and they will be dynamic, accounting for the fact that officials can update their decisions as an event unfolds and information about the situation changes. The project has 5 main steps: (1) determine a suite of hurricane scenarios for use in evacuation and shelter models such that they probabilistically represent the full range of possible events, but are limited in number enough to allow detailed analysis with each; (2) conduct focus groups of key decisionmakers and stakeholders to identify and characterize key decisionmaking elements; (3) using the focus group input, develop two mathematical optimization models—one long-term strategic and one short-term operational—for evacuation and sheltering decisions; (4) conduct surveys of affected citizens to test the validity of the optimization model assumptions and results; and (5) demonstrate the models with case study applications in North Carolina and Florida.