Efficient evacuation from transport terminals is usually constrained by alack of detailed knowledge of the geometry. In most cases, the population attempts to evacuate via the way they entered, bypassing or ignoring emergency exits.
In serious fires, the inability to locate emergency exits can lead to loss of life as in the Kings Cross Underground Station (1988) and Dusseldorf Airport (1996) fires. While terminal staff attempt to direct passengers to the most appropriate exits, they cannot be everywhere throughout the station and they may not be able to reach the population quickly enough. Throughout the world, emergency signage has traditionally been used to address this problem. However, recent research has shown that only 38% of people see evacuation signage, even if the sign is located directly in front of them and their vision is unobstructed.
GETAWAY will tackle this problem through the design and development of an Intelligent Active Dynamic Signage System (IADSS). Through the introduction of lit, flashing and running signs, the traditional static emergency sign will be transformed into a Dynamic Signage System. The increased affordance offered by the Dynamic Signage System (DSS) will significantly increase the detection of the emergency exit sign.
By linking the DSS to the alarm system, the DSS will only be activated when needed, thereby overcoming the learnt irrelevance of emergency signs. Finally, the Active Dynamic Signage System will be linked to an automated system utilising evacuation simulation, CCTV footage and Fire Detection System information to determine the optimal evacuation route as the fire develops, bringing Intelligence to the ADSS. IADSS enables the terminal Incident Manager to direct passengers to the optimal egress route by activating the appropriate signs within the ADSS. The IADSS will be tested and validated through trials in the London Underground and Barcelona Metro. GETAWAY will bring the humble emergency exit sign into the 21st Century.
Emergency signage system to support security in European rail stations during emergencies
Smarter signage and a decision-support system for emergencies in railways and metro stations will help users get to safety more quickly. An EU initiative introduced a novel and intelligent emergency signage system to direct passengers during the evacuation of a transport terminal.
While travellers enjoy the interconnectivity and diversity of underground and overground metro and rail stations in European cities, the maze of tunnels can turn into a nightmare in emergency situations such as fires or terrorist attacks.
The EU-funded http://www.getaway-project.eu/ (GETAWAY) (Generating simulations to enable testing of alternative routes to improve wayinding in evacuation of over-ground and underground terminals) project addressed this challenge through better escape plans.
Project partners developed a sophisticated system that exploits environmental data on developing hazardous situations, supported by video technology that analyses the number of people in a given area. The technology is designed to be integrated into both new and existing transport terminals. The key subsystems are a fire detection and alarm system, image analysis engine, evacuation simulation engine and decision-making engine.
The signage system was successfully demonstrated at a rail terminal. Results showed that the new signage design was clear and not confusing in any way. Most of the subjects used the designated exit instead of the nearest one during an emergency. They also felt the right decision was made in their choice of exit.
Overall, the intelligent active dynamic signage system was shown to effectively evacuate large crowds from railway stations. It is 103 % more visible without changing the size or content of signs. By using new image analysis methods, the accuracy of people counting even in challenging situations such as complex structures and changing lighting conditions can be improved by over 90 %. It is capable of performing simulations three times faster than in real time. People are more likely to choose the developed system over existing ones, and are able to make faster decisions because of it.
Thanks to GETAWAY, managing safe evacuation in rapidly changing and complex rail and underground environments becomes much less challenging.