Disaster Response Planning: MATRIC and Prime Partner Azimuth Inc. Deliver Value

In a post 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina world, as federal and state governments expand their focus on emergency preparedness, the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center’s (MATRIC) advanced systems technologies division has helped develop a tool to aide such efforts.

The  Modeling & Simulation (M&S) Consequence Management System can assist with attack and disaster preparation, recovery, and response planning for a mass evacuation event from the National Capital Region to a host region. The M&S capability enables emergency planners to design and run dynamic, “what-if” simulations depicting the impacts of a mass evacuation upon critical infrastructure and resource consumption.

Evacuation Simulation

The system simulates the affect of evacuees on transportation infrastructure and consumption of fuel, water, first aid, and shelter. Users can activate and deactivate shelters, place barriers, and enforce fuel rationing using the tool.

Activation of resources (such as shelters and first aid) have a start up and per occupant cost which are deducted from a “war chest,” defined by the user for their particular simulation experience. The type and inventory of supplies (i.e., cots, quantity 3,000) available in the war chest can be customized. The simulation logic uses over 30 subject matter expert (SME) approved scenario parameters, including total number of evacuees, the percent seeking shelter, average gallons of water used per occupant, and points of entry.

System users can pause, play, fast-forward, and rewind the simulation maps to visualize road congestion and resource consumption over time. Additionally, specific reports can be generated, such as hospital bed availability, or broader reports encompassing all resources and their depletion rates.

The project utilizes a unique blend of simulation, geographic information system (GIS), and gaming fundamentals into a hybrid client/server system with performance requirements not typical within current state of the art GIS applications. It was developed for the FEMA Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program, initially focusing on the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. The simulation logic is designed for extensibility to encompass all state-wide counties, neighboring states and geographical regions/districts based on availability of resource data.

Since runtime optimization and tuning were important to the success of the project, the team conducted detailed performance assessments of simulation logic and benchmarks of server configurations. Future work will focus on a much expanded geographic region, adding additional resources, and performance optimizations.

MATRIC was pleased to work with Azimuth Inc., the project’s primary contractor, along with the additional partners and agencies.  Azimuth was responsible for the project data gap analysis and data collection. MATRIC was responsible for the simulation logic, along with portal design and implementation.

The system has received accolades from the Environmental Research Systems Institute (ESRI) and from project customer David Hoge, director of the W.Va. Homeland Security State Administrative Agency, who said “this tool will help emergency response personnel learn how to efficiently manage resources and save lives.”

For more information about our simulation and modeling services, contact Mark Dehlin or Vic Baker.