E3: Evaluating Equity in Evacuation: A Practical Tool and A Case Study (Collaborative Project)

Project Abstract

Natural or man-made hazards that require evacuation put already vulnerable populations in a more precarious situation. When plans and decisions about evacuation are made, access to a private car is typically assumed, and differences in income levels across a community are rarely taken into account. The result is that carless members of a community can find themselves stranded. Low-income carless residents need alternative transportation means to reach shelters in case of an emergency. Thus, evacuation plans, decisions, and models need necessary information that identifies and locates these populations. In this study, data from the American Community Survey, U.S. Census, Internal Revenue Service, and the National Household Travel Survey are used to generate a synthetic population for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, using the copula concept. Geographic locations of low-income residents are identified within each subarea of the county (census tract) and their car ownership is estimated with a binomial logit model. The developed population synthesis method allows officials to have a more accurate account of populations for emergency planning and identify locations of shelters and triage points as well as planning carless transportation services.

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Impacts and Outcomes

The proposed population synthesizing method can provide reliable and granular-level input for activity-based models that are particularly developed to understand the travel and behavioral pattern for individuals within large cities and small communities as well. These studies would help planners and policy makers better examine alternative scenarios to improve the infrastructure, address the needs of underserved communities, and measure the accessibility of different population segments for effective and equitable evacuation planning.

Universities and Sponsoring Organizations Involved

University of Maryland

Morgan State University

U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary-Research

Principal Investigator

Dr. Cinizia Cirillo, University of Maryland, ccirillo@umd.edu

Dr. Celeste Chavis, Morgan State University, celeste.chavis@morgan.edu

Funding Sources and Amounts

USDOT, $140,000; $40,000 Match, University 1; $30,000 Match, University 2 

Completion Date

February 2020


Synthetic population, Archimedean copulas, Accessibility, Car-ownership models, Evacuation planning, low income, carless