The University of Southampton

CollabMap crowdsourcing software for evacuation plans

Published: 16 December 2011

Researchers in ECS-Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton have launched new software which allows organisations to develop evacuation plans using a combination of crowdsourcing and computer simulations.

Dr Sarvapali Ramchurn and a team of researchers in the ECS Agents, Interaction and Complexity research group have devised CollabMap and are now inviting organizations to volunteer information about connections to buildings and roads in their area, so that an evacuation plan can be created for them.

"CollabMap will be of interest to any organization that wants to develop an evacuation plan," said Dr Ramchurn. "We don't just use the information to build a map; we build a computer simulation that shows how people move around an area. Once people log in and draw routes, we aggregate the data to produce a high fidelity map over which we can simulate the movement of thousands of individuals across roads and open spaces, using parallel programming techniques."

CollabMap follows on from crowdsourcing and computer simulation work undertaken by Dr Ramchurn for Hampshire County Council with funding from EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and the ORCHID project. ORCHID focuses on capitalising on human/computer interactions in disaster response scenarios.

One of the areas that will be mapped using CollabMap is the Fawley Oil Depot, near Southampton, which is the second biggest oil depot in the world and an area of high risk. Members of the public can take part in the CollabMap exercise, whether they know the area or not. Dr Ramchurn explains how it works on the CollabMap video on YouTube.

The Fawley mapping exercise will run for two months. Similar exercises can be run in any part of the world and can be used by organisations interested in their data being used for evacuation simulations.

The researchers involved in CollabMap are: Dr Ruben Stranders, Dr Trung Dong Huynh, and Dr Bing Shi.

For further information about this news story, contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453

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