How quickly can a place like Dulles Airport be evacuated in an emergency without putting people in danger? That’s the question students at Bowie State University are working to answer using a new virtual reality laboratory and advanced 3-D equipment to simulate emergency evacuation scenarios.

Backed by a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, students and faculty in the Computer Science Department have created ‘virtual’ environments to evaluate emergency evacuation procedures for sites like airports, airplanes and large buildings. Sophisticated equipment enables them to evaluate the impact of crowd behavior, time and signage during the evacuation.

“The idea is to see how people react in an emergency environment like how quickly they are able to find an exit,” said Dr. Sharad Sharma, assistant professor of computer science at Bowie State University and principal investigator of the NSF grant. “We can learn why a person may trust a stranger, which exit signs are most effective and how long the whole process takes.”

The results of this research will support ongoing efforts to enhance national security and preparedness to respond in emergency situations. Read Full Article at Bowie State University