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Evacuation of a Highly Congested Urban City: The Case of Beirut

In recognition of the outstanding research entitled: “Evacuation of a highly congestion urban city: the case of Beirut”, Dr. John Khoury, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at LAU, Dr. Jean-Paul Arnaout, a former Industrial Engineering faculty member at LAU, and LAU Industrial Engineering student Ms. Caline El Khoury, received the Best Track Paper Award at the 2015 Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (IEOM) conference held in Orlando, Florida on September 10, 2015.

This CNRS-funded research effort aimed at identifying routes and route schedules that minimize evacuate times for vulnerable population centers within Beirut due when faced with an imminent disaster. The three-year-long study that was led by Dr. Khoury developed an optimized approach that maximizes the number of evacuees for short notice evacuation situations caused by natural or man-made disasters. The methodology is scaled to Beirut city with a transportation network capacity well below daily peak demands. Given the computationally-challenging evacuation route planning, an evacuation scheduling algorithm was developed to expedite the solution process. The developed approach uses Dijkstra’s algorithm to find the shortest path(s), and a modified greedy algorithm to assign maximum flows to selected paths given a specific schedule per time interval. A case study using real population and transportation network data was tested using the proposed methodology. The research shows Beirut to be in grave danger when disasters similar to the one simulated occur. Its high population density and disproportionate network capacity are shown to be the main culprits behind the city’s vulnerability.

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