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Earthquake? Terrorist Bomb? Call in the AI


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London's Tavistock Square bombing

Research employing computer-simulation techniques will help first responders adapt to emergencies by helping them distribute resources optimally.

Credit: Fiona Hanson / PA

Durham University researchers are developing a training simulation system designed to help emergency services workers adapt to chaotic situations. The Rescue system involves 4,000 software agents that represent the public and members of emergency services, each of which is equipped with a basic level of programmed behaviors. The system takes an big picture view of the ongoing situation, analyzing information fed to it by agents at the scene.

University of Notre Dame researchers are contributing simulation tools that demonstrate how crowds react during a disaster. Notre Dame's Dynamic Adaptive Disaster Simulation (DADS) also uses basic software agents to represent humans that are programmed to run away toward safety. DADS utilizes location data from cell phones to understand how the crowd is moving. The researchers can then run the simulation faster than real time to give emergency service workers a model of what the panicked crowd is likely to do, says Notre Dame's Greg Madey.

Paul Sabatier University researchers also are working on crowd simulation software, focusing on how crowds act as they are packed more closely together. The researchers found that as crowd density increases, waves of people are created that lead to stampedes that have been documented in real life.

From New Scientist
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