How infrastructure can improve mass evacuations

Sean Qian, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said the country’s state transportation departments have been able to amass considerable information about driving patterns and the use of highways and main arterials during the last decade. That data could be useful in creating models that can inform officials’ plans for high-capacity events like a mass evacuation. Closing lanes, reprogramming traffic signals and emergency traffic routing are some of the measures on the table when trying to get people from point A to point B safely and efficiently in such a situation, he said.

Emergency information should be managed and dispensed from a centralized, informed state agency, he said, as current crowdsourced driving apps, like GasBuddy, have not proven reliable for such large-scale, coordinated use as a mass evacuation.