Integrating Social and Transportation Aspects of Evacuation with GIS: Hillsborough and Pinellas County of Florida

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The main challenge for emergency managers during an evacuation is one of efficiency with a goal to provide assistance to a maximum number of people in the shortest time. To meet this challenge, emergency mangers should have analyzed the vulnerable areas and critical points on evacuation routes long before any emergency arises. However, the paradigm of evacuation is interdisciplinary, where the social scientist might analyze the vulnerability aspect of the location and people, while the transportation planner or engineer might undertake transportation assessments of the evacuation routes. This paper integrates some aspects of both transportation networks and vulnerability measures using a Geographic Information System (GIS) focusing on Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, Florida. Various social metrics and transportation factors, which have been shown to influence evacuation, are combined into an index to determine which areas are most vulnerable. Critical points of intersection that lead to traffic congestion and accidents occurring in the two counties when people are evacuating are identified based on car ownership and accident data. A GIS is then used to compare these critical points along the roads with the locations of vulnerable communities. The analysis demonstrates how emergency managers can take efficient action in their response time, starting from risk reduction to resource allocation and traffic operation to avoid potential congestion.

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Presented at the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers Conference in November 2016 in Columbia, SC