FSEG LOGO FIRE SAFETY ENGINEERING GROUP The Queen's Anniversary Prize 2002 The British Computer Society IT Awards 2001 The European IST Prize Winner 2003 The Guardian University Awards Winner 2014
The Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities


Hui Xie



Signage systems are widely used in buildings in accordance with safety legislation and building standards. These aim to provide general information and safety messages to occupants, and assist them in wayfinding during both circulation and evacuation. Despite the fact that signage systems are an important component in building wayfinding systems, there is a lack of relevant data concerning how occupants perceive, interpret and use the information conveyed by emergency signage. The effectiveness of signage systems is therefore difficult to assess and is not correctly represented in any existing evacuation models.

In this dissertation, this issue is addressed through two experiments and the modelling of the interaction with emergency signage based on the empirical findings. The first experiment involved measuring the maximum viewing distance of standard signs at various angles to produce an empirical representation of signage catchment area. The second experiment involved measuring the impact of a signage system on a population of 68 test subjects who were instructed to individually vacate a building by their own efforts. The evacuation path involved a number of decision points at which emergency signage was available to identify the appropriate path. Through analysis of data derived from questionnaires and video footage, the number of people who perceived and utilised the signage information to assist their egress is determined.

The experimental results are utilised to enhance the capability of the buildingEXODUS software. Firstly, the signage catchment area is revised to more accurately represent the visibility limits of signage than previously modelled according to the definition of signage visibility by regulations. Secondly, the impact of smoke on signage visibility is introduced and the representation of the impact of smoke on occupant evacuation performance is improved based on existing published data. Finally, the signage detection and compliance probabilities are assigned values based on the experimental data rather than the ideal values previously assumed. The impact that the enhanced signage model has on evacuation analysis is demonstrated in hypothetical evacuation scenarios. The new signage model is shown to produce a more representative and realistic estimate of expected egress times than previously.

It is hoped that this dissertation will improve our understanding of a key phenomena the interaction of people with signage, and allow interested parties (e.g. engineers, safety managers and designers, etc.) to more effectively and credibly examine the impact of signage systems upon pedestrian and evacuee movement.



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