The temporal hierarchy of shelters: a hierarchical location model for earthquake-shelter planning

The temporal hierarchy of shelters: a hierarchical location model for earthquake-shelter planning

Zhifen Chena,b, Xiang Chenc , Qiang Lia and Jin Chena

a State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China;

b China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, Beijing 100044, China;

c Department of Geography, The Ohio State University, OH 43210, USA.


Abstract: The problem of emergency facility location is a critical component in evacuation planning. The emergence of geographic information systems (GIS) has provided a useful operational platform to assist this issue. A previously overlooked facet is the consideration of a hierarchical structure in the placement of emergency shelters. Due to the fact that survivors’ needs change over time during post-disaster evacuations, shelters have now been categorized on a temporal scale based on their functions at different evacuation phases. This article proposes a three-level hierarchical location model for optimizing the placement of earthquake shelters by taking into account this temporal variance. The article not only scrutinizes the modeling procedure but also implements the model in a planning area with many real-world details. Based on the optimization results derived from a GIS context, we have found that the quality of the earthquake response procedure is not only dependent on the placement strategy of shelters, but more importantly on the financial constraints imposed on the planning and construction of these shelters. A discussion has been proposed to balance the trade-off between budget planning and evacuation efficiency. As the first attempt to model the hierarchical configuration of emergency shelters with specific focus on evacuees’ escalating sheltering demands, this article will be of great significance in helping policy makers consider both the spatial and financial aspects of the strategic placement of emergency shelters.


Keywords: hierarchy; location modeling; earthquake shelters; evacuation.


Published in International Journal of Geographical Information Science. 2013, DOI:10.1080/13658816.2013.763944.