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Special Issue "Simulations and Methods for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sustainable Built Environments"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Gabriele Bernardini
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Construction, Civil Engineering and Architecture (DICEA), Università Politecnica delle Marche, 60121 Ancona, Italy
Interests: Safety in built environment; risk assessment, analysis and management of the built environment; human factor in emergency; human behaviors in emergency; simulation modeling; decision-making during emergencies; evacuation and pedestrian modelling; human behavior in fire and earthquakes; behavioral simulations; evacuation simulation; Building Heritage
Prof. Dr. Gerta Köster
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Informatics and Mathematics, Hochschule München/Munich University of Applied Sciences, 80335 Munich, Germany
Interests: Modeling and simulation; scientific computing; pedestrian dynamics: models for movement of people, agent models, modeling social and psychological aspects; model verification; model calibration; model validation; data-driven surrogate models; model reduction; quantification of uncertainties; sensitivity studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on the built environment, (i.e., buildings, open spaces, transportation infrastructures, and their network, up to the scale of cities), both indoors at the building scale and outdoors at an urban scale.

Tools and methods to design a sustainable built environment in view of disasters serve to increase the resilience of spaces and communities and may help to quickly manage emergencies, thus making the built environment sustainable. But such tools must be sustainable themselves, that is:  

1) they must be based on assessment methods which consider all relevant interactions between humans, the built environment, and disaster-related effects, which can lead to significant differences between expected (and designed) and real performances;

2) they must provide a holistic, multi-risk and multi-scale perspective (“macro to micro to macro” approach in solutions implementation, that involve issues related to single building scale and urban scale);

3) they must help to promote good practices and “correct” behaviours from the perspective of users and stakeholders, before and during the emergency;

4) they must jointly assess the impact of physical interventions on the built environment and its management, also in emergency conditions (thus including the roles of all stakeholders and users, including rescuers).

In the past decade, much progress has been made in investigating and modelling disaster conditions in built environments. User-centred and “intelligent” tools have been designed, following an interdisciplinary approach. Yet, models and tools still fall short of the sustainability goals formulated above, which limit their use to define operative guidelines, practices, and solutions that will make the built environment more resilient.

This Special Issue invites contributions that help to bridge this gap, by harnessing state-of-art methods, recent advances in research, and by conducting case studies.

Contributions could address one of the following themes:

  1. Modelling of pedestrian behaviours in emergency conditions, e.g., through experimental studies, operationalization of observed human behaviour, and model development and implementation. Models could refer to both the indoor and outdoor built environment. Ideally, they would use a joint representation of human behaviours and emergency conditions, e.g. for earthquakes, debris formation, flood, and floodwater spreading. They could also showcase the effects of risk-mitigation and risk-reduction strategies, e.g., emergency support to the occupants by the rescuers and wayfinding systems in the evacuation. This subject includes systematic studies on the effect of uncertain model parameters on vital quantities of interest, such as the evacuation time.
  2. Application of models to the indoor environment to evaluate the safety of people, and to evaluate the impact of different sustainable risk-reduction solutions. This topic could involve both specific case studies and idealized application to show the capability of simulation-based methods to define general guidelines and practices for sustainable intervention and management of the building. Relevant scenarios could deal with (but are not limited to): public buildings, office buildings, hospitals; indoor spaces for transportation, e.g., mobility hubs and stations; historical sites that are reused in a sustainable, safe way that respects heritage.
  3. Application of models to the outdoor environment to evaluate the safety of people, and to evaluate the impact of different sustainable risk-reduction solutions. This topic could involve both specific case studies and idealized application to show the capability of simulation-based methods for risk mitigation. Contributions could treat general risk assessment and reduction methods, as well as guidelines and practices for decision-makers in the built environment on an urban scale. Relevant scenarios could be: private and public outdoor spaces, i.e., within the urban fabric; specific elements in urban spaces, such as tunnels, bridges; specific urban events, such as parades and demonstrations; historical sites that are reused in a sustainable, safe way that respects heritage; the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces in emergency conditions.
  4. Application of models for training purposes, e.g., from the rescuers' point of view, and to increase risk awareness among citizens. This topic could involve training applications to implement guidelines and good practices, which showcase the potential of simulation-based training tools. Case studies are also encouraged, involving, e.g., virtual reality or augmented reality technologies.

Development of sustainable safety-increasing tools based on validated simulation models of human behaviours and motion in indoor and outdoor spaces. Tools could concern system interactions with people in emergency conditions.  Applications could include tracking of evacuees and rescuers, guidance and wayfinding for evacuees and rescuers. Other topics of interest are: evacuation systems and their management; augmented reality-based technologies.

Dr. Gabriele Bernardini
Prof. Dr. Gerta Köster
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Built environment
  • sustainability
  • safety
  • evacuation modelling
  • sustainable solutions
  • training tools
  • disaster
  • emergency management
  • sensitivity studies

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Examining Evacuee Response to Emergency Communications with Agent-Based Simulations
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4623; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094623 - 21 Apr 2021
Viewed by 759
Abstract
To improve communication during emergencies, this research introduces an agent-based modeling (ABM) method to test the effect of psychological emergency communication strategies on evacuation performance. We follow a generative social science approach in which agent-based simulations allow for testing different candidate solutions. Unlike [...] Read more.
To improve communication during emergencies, this research introduces an agent-based modeling (ABM) method to test the effect of psychological emergency communication strategies on evacuation performance. We follow a generative social science approach in which agent-based simulations allow for testing different candidate solutions. Unlike traditional methods, such as laboratory experiments and field observations, ABM simulation allows high-risk and infrequent scenarios to be empirically examined before applying the lessons in the real world. This is essential, as emergency communication with diverse crowds can be challenging due to language barriers, conflicting social identities, different cultural mindsets, and crowd demographics. Improving emergency communication could therefore improve evacuations, reduce injuries, and ultimately save lives. We demonstrate this ABM method by determining the effectiveness of three communication strategies for different crowd compositions in transport terminals: (1) dynamic emergency exit floor lighting directing people to exits, (2) staff guiding people to exits with verbal and physical instructions, and (3) public announcements in English. The simulation results indicated that dynamic emergency exit floor lighting and staff guiding people to exits were only beneficial for high-density crowds and those unfamiliar with the environment. Furthermore, English public announcements actually slowed the evacuation for mainly English-speaking crowds, due to simultaneous egress causing congestion at exits, but improved evacuation speed in multicultural, multilingual crowds. Based on these results, we make recommendations about which communication strategies to apply in the real world to demonstrate the utility of this ABM simulation approach for risk assessment practice. Full article
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Article
Flexible Workflow for Determining Critical Hazard and Exposure Scenarios for Assessing SLODs Risk in Urban Built Environments
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4538; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084538 - 19 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 963
Abstract
Urban Built Environments (UBE) are increasingly prone to SLow-Onset Disasters (SLODs) such as air pollution and heatwaves. The effectiveness of sustainable risk-mitigation solutions for the exposed individuals’ health should be defined by considering the effective scenarios in which emergency conditions can appear. Combining [...] Read more.
Urban Built Environments (UBE) are increasingly prone to SLow-Onset Disasters (SLODs) such as air pollution and heatwaves. The effectiveness of sustainable risk-mitigation solutions for the exposed individuals’ health should be defined by considering the effective scenarios in which emergency conditions can appear. Combining environmental (including climatic) conditions and exposed users’ presence and behaviors is a paramount task to support decision-makers in risk assessment. A clear definition of input scenarios and related critical conditions to be analyzed is needed, especially while applying simulation-based approaches. This work provides a methodology to fill this gap, based on hazard and exposure peaks identification. Quick and remote data-collection is adopted to speed up the process and promote the method application by low-trained specialists. Results firstly trace critical conditions by overlapping air pollution and heatwaves occurrence in the UBE. Exposure peaks (identified by remote analyses on the intended use of UBEs) are then merged to retrieve critical conditions due to the presence of the individuals over time and UBE spaces. The application to a significant case study (UBE in Milan, Italy) demonstrates the approach capabilities to identify key input scenarios for future human behavior simulation activities from a user-centered approach. Full article
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Article
Dynamics of a Simulated Demonstration March: An Efficient Sensitivity Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3455; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063455 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 795
Abstract
Protest demonstrations are a manifestation of fundamental rights. Authorities are responsible for guiding protesters safely along predefined routes, typically set in an urban built environment. Microscopic crowd simulations support decision-makers in finding sustainable crowd management strategies. Planning routes usually requires knowledge about the [...] Read more.
Protest demonstrations are a manifestation of fundamental rights. Authorities are responsible for guiding protesters safely along predefined routes, typically set in an urban built environment. Microscopic crowd simulations support decision-makers in finding sustainable crowd management strategies. Planning routes usually requires knowledge about the length of the demonstration march. This case study quantifies the impact of two uncertain parameters, the number of protesters and the standard deviation of their free-flow speeds, on the length of a protest march through Kaiserslautern, Germany. Over 1000 participants walking through more than 100,000 m2 lead to a computationally demanding model that cannot be analyzed with a standard Monte Carlo ansatz. We select and apply analysis methods that are efficient for large topographies. This combination constitutes the main novelty of this paper: We compute Sobol’ indices with two different methods, based on polynomial chaos expansions, for a down-scaled version of the original set-up and compare them to Monte Carlo computations. We employ the more accurate of the approaches for the full-scale scenario. The global sensitivity analysis reveals a shift in the governing parameter from the number of protesters to the standard deviation of their free-flow speeds over time, stressing the benefits of a time-dependent analysis. We discuss typical actions, for example floats that reduce the variation of the free-flow speed, and their effectiveness in view of the findings. Full article
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Article
Evacuation Simulation Focusing on Modeling of Disabled People Movement
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2405; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042405 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1028 | Retraction
Abstract
All building users should have the right to safe evacuation. However, evacuation becomes a big challenge when it concerns people with disabilities. Nowadays, computer programs are used to plan escape routes. Therefore, the manuscript deals with the issues of modeling evacuation with particular [...] Read more.
All building users should have the right to safe evacuation. However, evacuation becomes a big challenge when it concerns people with disabilities. Nowadays, computer programs are used to plan escape routes. Therefore, the manuscript deals with the issues of modeling evacuation with particular emphasis on people with disabilities. A review of different evacuation modeling software is presented. The research is performed mainly to see what the limitations of different programs are and how they regard occupants with disabilities. The analyses contain a study of six cases of the evacuation from a building. In this study the three following programs—SIMULEX, STEPS and Pathfinder—are considered. Different populations of people with mobility impairments are modeled. The comparison of the methodology when using these three programs is presented in the following sections. Research has shown that despite the same input data, the results obtained with the three programs differ significantly. In the case of the total evacuation time, the differences reach up to 8%. Full article
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Article
Incorporating Virtual Reality Technology in Safety Training Solution for Construction Site of Urban Cities
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010243 - 29 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1352
Abstract
The lack of experiential training has become the primary cause of incidents that could have been easily avoided in construction areas, and the implementation of experimental training is crucial in minimizing incidents at construction sites. The limitation on the available training tools has [...] Read more.
The lack of experiential training has become the primary cause of incidents that could have been easily avoided in construction areas, and the implementation of experimental training is crucial in minimizing incidents at construction sites. The limitation on the available training tools has made it impossible to build up a real test site or reproduce the constructing scenarios. This research aims to develop an immersive and interactive multiplayer-based training platform that incorporates virtual reality (VR) technology to improve the safety awareness of workers. The developed simulation platform serves as a training solution, enabling the provision of repeatable and flexible procedures within a secure environment. An evaluation survey was conducted to make a comparison between traditional training methods and the proposed VR solution. Promisingly, the results indicate that workers were better trained under the developed immersive environment, and they could memorize critical points more effectively because the implementation of VR technology can allow people to experience hazardous situations without being physically injured, thus creating a safer and more efficient training environment. This study reveals that the nomination of the proposed VR platform could reap many benefits and become an advantageous tool for construction training, as well as stimulate human-machine interaction research. Full article
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Article
On the Effectiveness of the Measures in Supermarkets for Reducing Contact among Customers during COVID-19 Period
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9385; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229385 - 11 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1338
Abstract
The spread of the COVID-19 virus had a huge impact on human life on the global scale. Many control measures devoted to decrease contact among people have been adopted to slow down the transmission of the disease. A series of measures have been [...] Read more.
The spread of the COVID-19 virus had a huge impact on human life on the global scale. Many control measures devoted to decrease contact among people have been adopted to slow down the transmission of the disease. A series of measures have been taken in supermarkets, which include restricting the number of customers, keeping social distance, and entering with a shopping cart. In this work, we investigate with numerical simulations the effectiveness of these measures in reducing the contact among customers. Several scenarios with different control measures are designed for numerical analysis. The movements of customers in a supermarket are simulated by a microscopic model for pedestrian dynamics. Moreover, an index based on the distance between customers is defined to measure the degree of contact and therefore evaluate it quantitatively. The effect of these measures on the average contact degree of each customer is explored, and the spatial distribution of the contact among customers in the supermarket is shown in a qualitative way. Simulation results show that except shopping cart measure, the other two measures are effective in reducing contact among customers. Full article
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Article
Analysis of Space Usage on Train Station Platforms Based on Trajectory Data
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8325; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208325 - 10 Oct 2020
Viewed by 762
Abstract
The functionality of railway platforms could be assessed by level of service concepts. They describe interactions between humans and the built environment and allow one to rate risks due to overcrowding. To improve existing concepts, a detailed analysis of how pedestrians use the [...] Read more.
The functionality of railway platforms could be assessed by level of service concepts. They describe interactions between humans and the built environment and allow one to rate risks due to overcrowding. To improve existing concepts, a detailed analysis of how pedestrians use the space was performed, and new measurement and evaluation methods are introduced. Trajectories of passengers at platforms in Bern and Zurich Hardbrücke (Switzerland) were analysed. Boarding and alighting passengers show different behaviour, considering the travel paths, waiting times and mean speed. Density, speed and flow profiles were exploited and a new measure for the occupation of space is introduced. The analysis has shown that it is necessary to filter the data in order to reach a realistic assessment of the level of service. Three main factors should be considered: the time of day, the times when trains arrive and depart and the platform side. Therefore, density, speed and flow profiles were averaged over one minute and calculated depending on the train arrival. The methodology developed in this article is the basis for enhanced and more specific level of service concepts and offers the possibility to optimise planning of transportation infrastructures with regard to functionality and sustainability. Full article
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Review

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Review
Risk Reduction Strategies against Terrorist Acts in Urban Built Environments: Towards Sustainable and Human-Centred Challenges
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 901; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020901 - 17 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1003
Abstract
Terrorist impacts have been increasing over time in many countries, being one of the most significant threats for the Built Environment (BE), intended as a network of open spaces (streets, squares) and facing buildings, and their users. Such risk is affected by a [...] Read more.
Terrorist impacts have been increasing over time in many countries, being one of the most significant threats for the Built Environment (BE), intended as a network of open spaces (streets, squares) and facing buildings, and their users. Such risk is affected by a combination of strategic functions and crowd conditions. This work traces, for the first time, the state-of-the-art consolidated Risk Mitigation and Reduction Strategies (RMRSs). Solid RMRS regulatory frameworks from all over the world are collected. The results show how classification criteria distinguish them by attack targets and typologies, effectiveness over time/space, and physical implementation versus management-based deployment. Nevertheless, these criteria seem to be too fragmented, failing in pursuing RMRSs selection in a holistic outlook. Thus, a new classification adopting the BE composing elements (physical elements, layout, access/surveillance systems, safety/security management) as key-factors is provided. Features, dependencies and coordination among them are discussed in a sustainability-based perspective, by showing how the main challenges for RMRSs’ design concern applicability, redundancy, and users’ emergency support. Safety/security management strategies have the overall highest sustainability level and play a pivotal role with respect to the other BE composing elements, which should be planned in reference to them. In addition, a human-centred approach (individuals’ interactions with BEs and RMRSs) will also be needed. These results will support efforts to include simulation-oriented approaches into RMRSs selection, effectiveness and feasibility analyses. Full article
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Other

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Retraction
Retraction: Żydek et al. Evacuation Simulation Focusing on Modeling of Disabled People Movement. Sustainability 2021, 13, 2405
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7912; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147912 - 15 Jul 2021
Viewed by 551
Abstract
The journal retracts the 23 February 2021 article [...] Full article
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