American Society of Civil Engineers

Framework for Modeling Mass Disasters

by Hamed Assaf, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, American Univ. of Beirut, AUB, P.O. Box 11-0236 Riad El Solh, Beirut 1107 2020 Lebanon. E-mail:

Natural Hazards Review, Vol. 12, No. 2, May 2011, pp. 47-61, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: This paper introduces a generic mass Disaster Modeling Framework (DMF) to support integrated sociophysical risk assessment and management of disasters. The DMF draws on the principles that disasters have many common features regardless of their instigating hazards and are the outcome of interaction between a hazard and society. The modular architecture of the DMF weakly couples three key applications: the Community Simulation Model (CSM), the Hazard Simulation Model (HSM), and the Evacuation Simulation Model (ESM). The CSM utilizes census, cadastral, and other data to construct an individual-based representation of the potentially impacted community. The CSM estimates people and built environment at risk at any given time of the day, week, and year. The CSM assessment along with the hazard simulation of the HSM feed into the ESM to simulate the progression of fatalities throughout the event. Dam failures, for which vivid and detailed accounts of human interaction with the incoming flood exist, served as case studies.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Emergency management
Natural hazards
Risk management
Simulation models

Author Keywords:
Risk assessment
Loss-of-life models
Evacuation models
Emergency planning