Pentagon to Premiere Exiting Plan

By Geoff Weisenberger, Associate Editor September 1, 2006

Five years after 9/11, whether or not buildings are safer is still a point of contention, but one thing that can’t be argued is that many “high-risk” buildings have made efforts to beef up security. And it’s certainly no surprise that the Pentagon is one such edifice.

In collaboration with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon put a high priority on implementing a prototype system to detect chemical and/or biological agents that could minimize occupant exposure through quick, strategic evacuation routes. Regal Decision Systems, a company specializing in custom life safety/evacuation software, developed the program—the Evacuation Guidance System (EGS)—which is essentially software that maps out optimal evacuation routing and guides occupants using directional lighting.

In a nutshell, the program creates a virtual map of a facility through extensive data collection, allowing facilities to strategically set up cameras to record people and their actions. According to Joe J. Borkoski, Jr., vice president with Regal, the company then analyzes this video to establish patterns. For example, at an airport, commuters and vacationers behave very differently.

With such patterns and profiles identified, “what-if” scenarios are run to simulate an actual event. If an evacuation route needs to be closed because it becomes too dangerous, personnel can re-run the optimizer from the command center, even on the fly, to determine the new best route.

With the Pentagon, Regal performed analysis of, and applied its technology to, one section of the structure. One comparative analysis showed that with EGS in place, occupant contamination exposure decreased 90% from the original evacuation plan. And when routing is determined in a non-contamination situation, the evacuation time is 40% faster than existing routes.

The final analysis has been completed and Regal is working toward having the the system implemented facility-wide.