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Quicker, Safer Tsunami Evacuations

Project Period: November 2017 - October 2019

Organisations: NIWA, Landcare Research, Davies Environmental

Project Funders: Natural Hazards Research Platform

Project Location: East Coast of New Zealand's North Island


Coastal communities throughout New Zealand are vulnerable to local source. It is important to ensure that these communities are aware of their risk and know how to prepare and respond to these events. This research project is designed to test ‘agent based modelling’, a recently developed method, to model tsunami evacuations in Napier, Wellington and Christchurch. This improves on past techniques for estimating evacuation times as it takes into account a range of different characteristics in the population such as walking speed. The models simulate the movement of people who have self-evacuated on foot, following a long or strong earthquake that could have caused a large tsunami. They show how long it may take people to get to locations and likely congestion areas during a daytime and night-time scenario. It would be appreciated if communities could record their tsunami hīkoi route to high ground and inland using phone based apps. The research team led public workshops in each of the case study locations to identify tsunami evacuation routes that had been modelled but were not possible in real life, as well as routes that are possible in real life but have not been modelled. This information was then summarized and new models were developed to look at possible options such as vertical evacuation to make tsunami evacuations quicker and safer, in the future. The research team are holding further public events to share research findings with the communities that helped to improve the models and discuss next steps from here.

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