Embargoed Until: Friday, 15
University wins Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Life-saving software design
Cutting edge software that simulates evacuations during
emergencies, helping building, aircraft and ship designers to save lives, was
awarded a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education at a
special reception for prize winners at St James's Palace on 14 November.
Developed by the University of Greenwich’s Fire Safety
Engineering Group, the EXODUS suite of evacuation software uses complex
interacting sub-models to predict evacuation behaviour during emergencies such
as fires. The software’s sophistication means that people are represented as
individuals with real human behaviour, such as returning to their desk to
collect a handbag or searching for a child. Simulated occupants even react to
the heat, smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire. EXODUS simulations allow
engineers to assess more potential designs than conventional methods and are
free of the potential danger and high cost of conventional human evacuation
By embedding evacuation dynamics into the design
process, EXODUS enables design engineers to develop safer and more effective
layouts. The software runs on PCs and is user-friendly, with its advanced
user-interface enabling non-experts to use it.
The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher Education
honour exceptional contributions made by universities and colleges to national
life, and are the most distinguished award that can be made to a UK institution
for higher or further education.
The University of Greenwich’s citation recognises it as
a ‘world leader in the area of evacuation model development.’ EXODUS’s use by
businesses and public authorities ‘greatly enhances public safety’, and the
group’s specialist training offers ‘vital expertise to the user community
“We are proud of the contribution EXODUS is making to
world safety, and it is a great honour to receive this national award,” said
Professor Ed Galea, Director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group. “Our
objective is to help design engineers to save lives; we turn their PCs into
virtual laboratories in which they can reach the optimal design solution cost
effectively and safely. By subjecting our ‘virtual’ people to a living-hell of
perpetual emergencies, designers not only develop
safer designs, but reduce the need for real people to be
exposed to the risk of evacuation trials.”
The realism of the software is based on data from
experiments, including some performed by the group, as well as eyewitness
accounts from actual disasters. Tailored versions of the software are now
available for building, aviation and maritime applications.
Design engineers and safety regulators in 22 countries
are using buildingEXODUS to improve the evacuation performance of a wide range
of buildings, from cinemas to airports, hospitals to schools. Notable
applications include the Dusseldorf airport redevelopment, the Greenwich
Millennium Dome and the Sydney Olympic Stadium.
The aircraft evacuation version, airEXODUS, has been
used by the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus and Boeing,
to improve the safety performance of aircraft, ranging from regional jets to the
Airbus A380 SuperJumbo.
The marine version of the model, maritimeEXODUS, is
being used in a wide range of maritime applications, from a Thames Riverboat to
the next generation of Royal Navy ships.
Additional applications of EXODUS include the simulation
of people movement in non-evacuation conditions to improve the comfort and
efficiency of layouts and operational procedures, as well as public safety.
For further information, contact:
Public Relations Unit
University of Greenwich
020 8331 7663
NOTES FOR EDITORS
THE QUEEN’S ANNIVERSARY PRIZES FOR
FURTHER AND HIGHER EDUCATION
The University is a recognised world
leader in the area of evacuation model development. Use of its software
technology by businesses and public authorities greatly enhances public safety
and its specialised training offers vital expertise to the user community
The biennial Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Further and Higher Education
recognise and reward the outstanding contribution that universities and colleges
in the United Kingdom make to the intellectual, economic, cultural and social
life of the nation. It is the most distinguished award that can be made to a
UK institution for higher or further education. Prizes have been awarded
biennially since 1994 and some twenty Prizewinners have been selected in each of
the four previous Rounds. The Queen will present a Gold Medal and an
illuminated Prize Certificate to the EXODUS team at an honours ceremony at
Buckingham Palace in February 2003.
Judging for the prize is very thorough, with winning
entries going through from 10 to 12 independent external assessments by
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION WON BY EXODUS (2001)
The EXODUS suite of software was
selected as the overall winner in the IT industry ‘Oscars’ - the British
Computer Society (BCS) IT Awards.
maritimeEXODUS won the CITIS
(Communications & IT in Shipping) Award for Innovation in IT for Ship
maritimeEXODUS also won the RINA/LR
(Royal Institution of Naval Architecture/Lloyds Register) Award for ship safety.
Furthermore, the UK MOD classified EXODUS as, ‘the
escape tool that most closely meets the needs of the MOD for the development of
warship escape design guidance and assessment’.
Fire Safety Engineering Group
Located in the School of Computing and Mathematical
Sciences, The Fire Safety Engineering Group consists of a 30-strong
multi-disciplinary team of mathematicians, behavioural psychologists, fire
safety engineers and computer scientists. The group was established in 1986 and
the modelling philosophy behind EXODUS has been developed and refined through 13
years of research into understanding and simulating evacuation, as well as the
rigours of the peer review process in both academic journals and doctoral
examination. The group has also produced the SMARTFIRE fire simulation
Professor Ed Galea is the founding
director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group (FSEG) at the University of
Greenwich, where he has worked in fire safety research since 1986.
His work in fire safety engineering began after the tragic Manchester Boeing 737
fire, when he was commissioned by the UK Civil Aviation Authority to simulate
the spread of fire and smoke in the disaster. Since then his research has
expanded to include the modelling of evacuation, people movement, fire/smoke
spread, combustion and fire suppression in the built environment, rail, marine
and aviation environments. Professor Galea is the author of over 100
academic and professional publications related to fire. He serves on a number
of national and international standards and safety committees concerned with
fire and evacuation including BSI, ISO, IMO and SFPE. His research and
consultancy activities have been supported by a wide range of European and North
EXODUS is written in C++ using Object
Orientated techniques, and utilises a rule-based approach to control the
simulation. For additional flexibility these rules have been categorised into
five interacting submodels that operate on a region of space defined by the
geometry of the enclosure. Internally, the
geometry is covered in a mesh of nodes. The nodes are linked by a system of
arcs. Each node represents a region of space typically occupied by a single
person. EXODUS also uses
virtual–reality technology to generate a three-dimensional
virtual-reality graphical environment. This brings the results of the computer
simulation to life, assisting the design
engineer to visualise and more easily interpret the outcome of simulations.
FIVE SUB MODELS
Embedded into EXODUS software is data from survivor accounts of real tragedies,
as well as experiments undertaken by the Fire Safety Engineering Group to
address shortfalls in knowledge, such as how people evacuation from overturned
railway carriages and the reaction of different demographic groups to heel and
pitch on ships. Such data greatly enhances the realism and sophistication if
the EXODUS sub-models.
submodel specifies how individual occupants move around a space, including
speed, overtaking, side stepping, or other evasive actions.
submodel determines an occupant’s response to the current prevailing situation
on the basis of his or her personal attributes. The behaviour submodel functions on
two levels: global and local: local behaviour determines an individual’s
response to his or her local situation, while the global behaviour represents
the overall strategy employed by the individual.
submodel describes an individual as a collection of defining attributes and
variables such as gender, age, max running speed, max walking speed, response
time, agility, etc. Some
attributes are fixed while others are dynamic, changing as a result of inputs
from other submodels.
submodel controls the atmospheric and physical environment. It distributes
pre-determined fire hazards such as heat, smoke and toxic products throughout
the atmosphere and controls the opening and closing of exits, etc.
submodel determines the effects on an individual exposed to toxic products
distributed by the hazard submodel. These effects are communicated to the
behaviour submodel, which, in turn, feeds through to the movement of the
FOUR MODES OF
An EXODUS model passes through four development phases during its specification:
which allows the engineer to define the physical layout of the structure. This
can be constructed manually using the interactive tools provided, imported from
a CAD DXF file or loaded from a library case.
is used to generate the group of people to be used in the evacuation study. As
in the Geometry mode, interactive tools are provided to assist with population
definition. Entire populations or subgroups of people can also be stored and
recalled from a user-defined library.
is used to control scenario specifics such as exit capabilities, fire hazards,
allows a simulation to be run either interactively or in batch mode. This mode
provides the engineer with an interactive 2D view of the structure that
graphically displays the evacuation as it evolves. The engineer can also use
this mode to specify a range of scenario specific data that can be saved for