Avoiding Gridlock After Terrorist Attacks

A terrorist attack or unforeseen natural disaster could unleash all sorts of madness on a major metropolitan area – and traffic is hardly a minor concern. Hundreds of thousands of people piling into their cars and speeding out of town at once could lead to some serious gridlock. Even a brief blackout can cause traffic migraines, as evidenced by the recent electrical outage in New York City. But University of Arizona engineer Yi-Chiang Chu is developing a software package that could smooth out the evacuation process. Working from real-time data collected by city and state transportation departments, the software suggests the best options for re-routing the cars and ensuring that everyone can get out of town as quickly as possible.—Gregory Mone