Approximating the Evacuation of the World Trade Center North Tower using Computer Simulation

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Courtesy of SAGE Publications

This article concerns an investigation of the full scale evacuation of a building with a configuration similar to that of the World Trade Center (WTC) north tower using computer simulation. A range of evacuation scenarios is explored in order to better understand the evacuation of the WTC on 11 September 2001. The analysis makes use of response time data derived from a study of published WTC survivor accounts. Geometric details of the building are obtained from architects' plans while the total building population used in the scenarios is based on estimates produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology formal investigation into the evacuation. This paper attempts to approximate the events of 11 September 2001 and pursue several 'what if' questions concerning the evacuation. In particular, the study explores the likely outcome had a single staircase survived intact from top to bottom. More generally, this paper explores issues associated with the practical limits of building size that can be expected to be efficiently evacuated using stairs alone.

 

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