Fire Technology

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 331–351 | Cite as

Modified Social Force Model Based on Predictive Collision Avoidance Considering Degree of Competitiveness

  • Yuan Gao
  • Tao Chen
  • Peter B. Luh
  • Hui Zhang


Modeling building evacuation during fire emergencies is an important issue. The social force model is a well-regarded evacuation modeling technique, and it has been integrated into the Fire Dynamics Simulator with Evacuation (FDS + Evac) of NIST to simulate building fire evacuation. However, these models still have limitations to be improved. First, occupants’ movement can be unrealistically prevented. For example, the corner of doors exerts unrealistic repulsive forces on occupants, so the simulated flow at narrow doors is much smaller than experimental data. Second, the degree of occupants’ competitiveness is not considered. Finally, current models are rarely validated by data form real-life emergencies, in which occupants may behave differently from normal situations. In this paper, new social forces are used to replace old ones to modify occupants’ collision avoidance: both time headway and time-to-collision are viewed as indicators of potential collisions, and social forces are active if time headway or time-to-collision reaches thresholds. A parameter is used to represent how the degree of occupants’ competitiveness affects their collision avoidance. The modified model is validated by both lab experiments and real emergency evacuation. First, the relation between simulated flow and door width in non-competitive situation is used for validation. In the simulation, 94 occupants, initially distributed in a 9 m - by - 4 m area, evacuate from a door. The simulated flow rates through doors of width ranging from 0.6 m to 1.2 m are consistent with the experimental data. Second, effects of competitiveness are studied. Simulation results show that whether competitiveness speeds up or slow down the evacuation through a door is affected by the initial number of occupants, door width, and other occupants outside the door. Finally, simulation results in competitive situation are consistent with data from a real-life emergency evacuation. The data used is extracted from a video recording occupants evacuating from an airport through a security gate in an earthquake. Simulation results are consistent with the real-life data in both the total evacuation time and the time when congestion occurred.


Building evacuation Social force model Collision avoidance Competitiveness 



This work was partially supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program No. 2012CB719705), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 91224008, 91024032). The authors also appreciate support for this paper by the Collaborative Innovation Center of Public Safety.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AutomationTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Public Safety ResearchTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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