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Getting out of harm's way - evacuation from tsunamis

January 1, 2015

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have developed a new mapping tool, the Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst, for use by researchers and emergency managers to estimate how long it would take for someone to travel on foot out of a tsunami-hazard zone. The ArcGIS software extension, released in September 2014, allows the user to create maps showing travel times out of hazard zones and to determine the number of people that may or may not have enough time to evacuate. The maps take into account the elevation changes and the different types of land cover that a person would encounter along the way.

Maps of travel time can be used by emergency managers and community planners to identify where to focus evacuation training and tsunami education. The tool can also be used to examine the potential benefits of vertical-evacuation structures, which are buildings or berms designed to provide a local high ground in low-lying areas of the hazard zone.