Generating simulations to Enable
Testing of Alternative routes to improve WAYfinding in
evacuation of over-ground and underground terminals
Granted under the "Seventh Framework Programme" of the European
Research area: SST.2010.4.1-1 Safety and
security by design in transport stations and terminals
Project Reference: 265717
acknowledgement of FSEG’s work on developing the IADSS concept
and its contribution to the GETAWAY project, FSEG was awarded
the prestigious Research Impact Award for 2014 as part of The
Guardian University Awards. A full account of the award and the
citation can be found on
The Guardian web pages.
Efficient evacuation from transport terminals is usually
constrained by a lack of detailed knowledge of the geometry. In
most cases, the population attempts to evacuate via the way they
entered, bypassing or ignoring emergency exits and using
familiar routes. 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 transform into a Dynamic Signage
System. The increased affordance offered by the 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 then enables the
terminal Incident Manager to direct passengers to the 'optimal'
egress route by activating the appropriate signs within the
ADSS. The IADSS (Intelligent Active Dynamic Signage Systems)
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.
The above architecture shows the three distinct layers of the
- The Hardware Layer
- The Communications Layer
- The Application Layer
Within the three layers of the GETAWAY architecture, green
coloured elements indicate components which are considered to be
in place and part of the standard security system. The blue
coloured elements are components that will be developed as part
of the GETAWAY system, while red coloured components are data
streams which are necessary for the GETAWAY system to function.
The Application Layer provides the intelligence of the
GETAWAY system. It includes:
- Vision analysis: to pick features
from the CCTV feed.
- The simulation engine: to examine the
impact of different passenger routing options
- The decision engine: to determine the
best routing of passengers based on output from the
- The UI: to inform the Incident Manager
of the suggested best routing strategy allowing them to
activate the appropriate signage components.
FSEG is responsible for the development and implementation of
the simulation engine and the integration of this system into
the overall GETAWAY system. FSEG is also heavily involved in the
experimental part of the project.
GETAWAY is concerned with improving pedestrian wayfinding in
transportation terminals, during emergency evacuation
situations. A new concept is to be developed as part of this
project called Intelligent Active Dynamic Signage Systems
(IADSS) to assist in this process. Research performed by the
FSEG has shown that only 38% of people see present passive
signage in emergency situations. However, of the people who do
see the sign, 100% follow the sign. This research therefore
suggests that emergency signage systems can be extremely
effective if people CAN and DO SEE them. The main objective of
GETAWAY is to improve safety in transportation terminals through
improved signage systems. To meet this prime objective, this
project will develop and demonstrate, through a series of
iterative steps, an innovative emergency signage system that
- significantly improve the detect ability of signage
systems by 50%,
- achieve this without increasing the size of the sign or
changing the visual content of the sign, thereby making it
acceptable to owners, architects and regulatory authorities,
- make use of environmental information relating to the
developing hazardous situation in real-time,
- make use of video analysis techniques that can determine
the number of people within given regions within the station
environment to an accuracy of 90%,
- make use of evacuation simulations involving 100s of
people which can be performed at least 3 times faster than
FSEG Objectives and
The first step in GETAWAY is to develop a dynamic element to the
standard emergency evacuation signs; and demonstrate the
effectiveness of this. A Dynamic Signage Systems (DSS) is
proposed incorporating lit, flashing and running lighting, which
should make the signs more notable. It is proposed to use the
innovative signage system developed by Evaclite which utilises a
dynamic lighting system which makes use of all of these
This system will be assessed by FSEG, using the laboratory scale
techniques FSEG developed to assess the effectiveness of
standard signs to quantify how much more effective such a system
is compared to the
standard passive signage.
The next stage of GETAWAY is to develop an Active Dynamic
Signage System (ADSS). With ADSS, the emergency sign is
activated only in the event of an emergency, thereby making the
sign more notable when it is needed. To achieve this, the ADSS
will be connected to the existing alarm system. This will be
achieved through the participation of Hochiki.
Once this is
achieved, the next stage of the project involves introducing
Intelligence into the Active Dynamic Signage Systems (IADSS).
The significant aspect of this is that the ADSS would not only
come on when required, but only those signs which point in the
'optimal' evacuation direction are activated. This will require
the use of much faster than real time simulation of evacuation,
data from detection and monitoring sensors throughout the
environment, analysis of CCTV images to count the number of
people in various locations in real time and a decision engine.
The evacuation simulation will be achieved using the FSEG
software buildingEXODUS and incorporate this software within an
automatic decision making environment, in order to select the
optimal evacuation route for occupants exposed to a developing
emergency situation. To achieve this, buildingEXODUS will need
to be adapted to accept as data input CCTV analysis of crowd
location and crowd number, and hazard data such as smoke
concentrations and temperatures from the fire detection system.
In addition, the buildingEXODUS software will need to be adapted
to produce metrics that will be of use to the Decision Engine,
which will automatically select the most appropriate exiting
routes. The software will need to be able to perform all of
these functions in faster than real-time, in order to influence
the evacuation as it occurs.
As part of project GETAWAY FSEG will extend the
buildingEXODUS software in several key areas. These are:
- Use of faster than real-time simulation to assist the
management of live evacuation scenarios.
- Incorporation of live hazard sensor data such as smoke
concentrations and temperatures into real time simulation.
- Utilising live CCTV video footage to determine initial
conditions (numbers of people and starting locations) for
Project GETAWAY will involve a series of experimental trials
undertaken in three phases.
- Demonstrating that DSS (Dynamic Signage Systems) based
on flashing and running lighting systems increases the
affordance of emergency signage systems and increases above
38% the number of people “seeing” the emergency sign.
- Introduce ADSS (Active Dynamic Signage Systems) in which
the DSS is activated when needed, once the alarm is
activated, thereby reducing the 'learned irrelevance' effect
of seeing emergency signs every day and never making use of
- Introduce IADSS (Intelligent Active Dynamic Signage
Systems)in which the ADSS adapts the directional information
depending on the nature of the developing incident.
FSEG will be active in the design, implementation, data
collection and analysis of these three trials.
LONDON UNDERGROUND LIMITED
VISION SEMANTICS LIMITED
BMT TECHMAR NV
HOCHIKI EUROPE (U.K.) LTD
KINGFELL BULGARIA EOOD
FERROCARRILS DE LA GENERALITAT DE
Greenwich Maritime Campus
Old Royal Naval College
Greenwich SE10 9LS
+44 (020) 8331 8730
The GETAWAY project is funded by the European
Commission's 7th Framework Programme