Engineering News-Record Article July '02 : Emergency Planning using Simulex
16th July 2002Emergency planning - getting Them Out Safely
A Scottish company with software that models emergency evacuations says sales have surged in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Prior to those events, Simulex, from Integrated Environmental Solutions Ltd., Glasgow, was finding a niche among planners tweaking designs for faster, safer evacuations. But sales jumped 60% in the months following the attacks, says product creator, Peter Thompson, IES's software development manager. Thompson says Simulex is based on observations of people working their way out of crowded spaces. "We measured walk-speeds, changes of direction, overtaking, body twists and the way one person slows down because of the obstruction of the person in front," he says. The program places simulated people individually in the CAD plans of a structure's floors and stairwells and then directs them to evacuate. "It's a good piece of software," says Norris Harvey, senior mechanical engineer with New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas Inc. The firm has used Simulex to study subway platform and tunnel evacuations. "We put 2,000 to 4,000 people in a station," he says, "Then you do the simulation and watch those guys get up and run out."