Utilize transportation tools in communications, traffic control, and monitoring and prediction to maximize the ability of the highway network to support evacuation operations.
Experience nationwide in the successful use of the transportation network in emergency evacuations with advance notice.
Communication Tools. A critical element in emergency evacuations is the ability of emergency response officials to communicate to all segments of the population in the evacuation zone. The following communication tools can help emergency management communicate to the public:
- Traveler Information-Dial 511 is the single traffic information telephone number in use by states and local jurisdictions (since 2000). As of 2008, nearly half of the states and metropolitan areas have 511 services. Nationwide availability of 511 is expected by 2010. The service is provided free of charge or the cost of a local telephone call. In addition to telephone information, many states provide comprehensive traveler information on 511 information websites. Evacuees with mobile or landline telephones (or an internet connection) can dial 511 to access current information for specific routes and roadway segments, including anticipated travel delays, traffic accidents, roadway blockages and lane closures. Roadside sensors that monitor traffic along highways permit the calculation of travel times.
- Loud Speakers that are located in the community can be used to alert people within a specific location, and loud speakers mounted on vehicles (e.g., roving police cars) can broadcast emergency information across different neighborhoods.
- Siren Systems are used to alert people when immediate action or cover is required (e.g., tornadoes or tsunamis).
- Handouts providing evacuation information (such as emergency preparedness steps, evacuation routes and locations for shelter and food) can be distributed at highway rest areas, transit stops, turnpike service plazas, gas stations, hotels, etc.
- REVERSE 911 enables emergency management to place thousands of phone calls simultaneously to residents to provide evacuation information. The service also enables communication with the hearing impaired with an optional Telephone Device for the Deaf.
- Variable Message Signs (VMS) are either pre-installed or portable, and they can be used to display information to direct motorists to the evacuation route and shelters.
- Commercial and Public Media are a critical resource for emergency management because they reach most segments of the population. After emergency response agencies brief the media , the media broadcasts this information through television networks, radio stations, newspapers, and websites.
- Emergency Alert System (EAS) enables the President and the heads of State and local government to provide immediate communications with the public.
- Public Access Cable Television operated by local governments can broadcast emergency information to the public.
- Cell Phones are an increasingly useful and accessible means of communication . Real-time traffic information can be broadcast directly to cell phone users who subscribe to traveler information services and travelers can use their phones to dial 511 and other information resources.
- Call Centers located at state and local agencies can provide real-time information on the status of the emergency, tips for preparedness and evacuation routes.
- Traffic Incident Management (TIM) assets enable jurisdictions to respond to incidents, which is particularly important during evacuations because of the priority on mitigating causes of congestion.
- Traffic Counting Devices are used to determine highway congestion levels. These data are relevant to decisions in regards to developing and using alternate routes and preparing for the number of people seeking shelter.
- Traffic Signals that are controlled by Traffic Management Centers (TMCs) can be optimized by TMCs for throughput on evacuation routes. Traffic signals not controlled by TMCs must be changed at the location of the intersection. Controlling traffic at intersections during evacuations may require police presence at major intersections for directing traffic. Some jurisdictions include intersection control in their emergency planning. For example, the city of Portland’s emergency management plan has provisions for controlling traffic at critical intersections.
- Traffic Signal Timing Planning for emergency evacuations ahead of time expedites operations during the actual event. An important component to preparedness is sharing signal timing plans with law enforcement so that police can prepare for changes in traffic patterns .
- Traffic Signal Pre-emption devices change the traffic signal when an emergency vehicle approaches to allow it to proceed unimpeded through the intersection.
- Ramp Meters allow for the timed entry of vehicles by stopping traffic on an interval basis, improving the efficiency of vehicles merging onto highways.
- Ramp Gates prevent traffic from entering or exiting highways are used during contraflow operations.
- Traffic Signs designate evacuation routes, contraflow patterns and the location of shelters. Flip-down signs have emergency information on the flipped-down part of the sign; the sign is flipped back up when conditions return to normal. Similarly, pre-installed signs with signs attached to their back can display contraflow information to motorists.
- Pavement Markings indicate when a road is an evacuation route or when a restricted lane can be used in an emergency.
- High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes can be used by non-HOV vehicles or as an ingress lane for emergency vehicles in emergencies.
- Frontage Roads with limited or controlled access and that are adjacent highways can be used by emergency vehicles.
- Reversible Lanes can be switched to accommodate travel moving in the direction of the evacuation.
- TMCs facilitate the safe movement of people and goods on surface roads during evacuations.
- Clarus is an effort of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ITS Joint Program Office and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Road Weather Management Program. It is supports traffic planning by predicting weather conditions in terms of its impact on transportation.
- Consequence Assessment Tool Set/Joint Assessment of Catastrophic Events (CATS/JACE) provides disaster analysis in real time with contingency and logistical planning and consequence management. The CATS program helps assess collateral damage to facilities, resources, and infrastructure, and it creates mitigation strategies for responders.
- Dynamic Network Assignment-Simulation Model for Advanced Road Telematics (Planning version) (DYNASMART-P) is a state-of-the-art dynamic network traffic operational planning tool developed under the FHWA’s Dynamic Traffic Assignment (DTA) research project. It supports transportation network planning and traffic operations decisions through the use of simulation-based dynamic traffic assignment.
- Evacuation Traffic Information Systems (ETIS) helps forecast where emergency transportation situations may arise and uses data from previous hurricane evacuation studies to estimate probable roadway congestion.
- Evacuation Travel Demand Forecasting System. This system leverages Internet-connected sensors and cameras along roads and highways to improve the surface transportation aspect of evacuation. The system proposes efficient evacuation algorithms that dynamically generate evacuation plans for both single and multiple incidents scenarios, based on real-time traffic information obtained from sensor data available through the Internet.
- Hazard U.S. – Multihazard (HAZUS-MR2) is a software program that estimates potential losses from earthquakes, hurricane winds, and floods. Developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under contract with the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), it uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to map and display hazard data and the results of damage and economic loss estimates for buildings and infrastructure. Estimating losses provides a basis for emergency response and recovery planning.
- Hurricane and Evacuation (HURREVAC) is a restricted-use computer program for government emergency managers to track hurricanes and assist in evacuation decision-making for their communities.
- MASS eVACuation (MASSVAC) uses macroscopic traffic flow models to forecast hurricane evacuation performance.
- Network Emergency Evacuation (NETVAC) models traffic flow in emergency evacuation conditions.
- Oak Ridge Evacuation Modeling System (OREMS) models evacuation operations and planning and management scenarios for a variety of disasters.
- Plume Modeling Tools predict the behavior of a cloud of toxic material released into the environment.
- Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) is a computerized model run by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to estimate storm surge heights and winds resulting from historical, hypothetical, or predicted hurricanes.
- Traffic Estimation and Prediction System (TrEPS) analyzes real-time traffic data from different sources to select strategies for meeting traffic control, management, and operation objectives.
Author: Houston, Nancy
Published By: Prepared by Booze Allen Hamilton for the USDOT FHWA
Source Date: December 2006
Other Reference Number: FHWA-HOP-06-109URL: http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/evac_primer/primer.pdf
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Intelligent Transportation Systems > Emergency Management > Response & Recovery > Evacuation & Re-Entry Management
Intelligent Transportation Systems > Emergency Management > Response & Recovery > Response Management
Intelligent Transportation Systems > Transportation Management Centers > Permanent TMCs