Aggregate-level demand management in evacuation planning
Without successful large-scale regional evacuations, threats such as hurricanes and wild-fires can cause a large loss of life. In this context, automobiles are oftentimes an essential transportation mode for evacuations, but the ensuing traffic typically overwhelms the roadway capacity and causes congestion on a massive scale. Congestion leads to many problems including longer, costlier, and more stressful evacuations, lower compliance rates, and increased risk to the population. Supply-based strategies have traditionally been used in evacuation planning, but they have been proven to be insufficient to reduce congestion to acceptable levels. In this paper, we study the demand-based strategies of aggregate-level staging and routing to structure the evacuation demand, both with and without congestion. We provide a novel modeling framework that offers strategic flexibility and utilizes a lexicographic objective function that represents a hierarchy of relevant evacuation-based goals. We also provide insights into the nature and effect of network bottlenecks. We compare our model with and without congestion in relation to tractability, normative optimality, and robustness under demand uncertainty. We also show the effectiveness of using demand-based strategies as opposed to using the status quo that involves a non-staged or simultaneous evacuation process. Effective solution procedures are developed and tested using hypothetical problem instances as well as using a larger study based on a portion of coastal Virginia, USA.
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