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Experimental analysis of the effectiveness of emergency signage and its implementation in evacuation simulation


Edwin R. Galea, Fire Safety Engineering Group, University of Greenwich, UK.



Signage systems play an important role in aiding occupants during both circulation and evacuation. Despite the fact that signage systems are an important component in building wayfinding systems, there is a lack of relevant data regarding how occupants perceive, interpret and use the information conveyed by emergency signage. The effectiveness of signage systems is therefore difficult to assess. In this paper, we address this issue through experimentation. The experiment involved measuring the impact of a signage system on a population of 68 test subjects who were instructed to individually vacate a building as quickly as possible via any means they thought appropriate. The evacuation path involved a number of decision points at which emergency signage was available to identify the appropriate path. Through analysis of video footage and data derived from questionnaires, the number of people who saw and utilised the signage information to assist their egress is determined. The experimental results are used to enhance the existing signage model within the buildingEXODUS software. In particular, the signage detection and acceptance probabilities are assigned values based on the experimental data rather than the ideal values previously used in the model. The impact that the enhanced signage model has on evacuation analysis is demonstrated in a hypothetical evacuation scenario. The enhanced signage model is shown to produce a more conservative lower estimate of expected egress times. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.