Northwestern University evacuation expert Hani Mahmassani has offered comments on California’s wildfires, which have forced evacuations of entire cities in both the northern and southern parts of the state.

Mahmassani is the William A. Patterson Distinguished Chair in Transportation in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center. He studies evacuation systems; multimodal transportation systems; planning and operations; dynamic network modeling and optimization; large-scale human infrastructure systems; and real-time operation of logistics and distribution systems. He can be reached at masmah@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Mahmassani:
“The main issue here is one of information and notification — not so much traffic congestion and gridlock. Fires typically affect lower-density areas, so traffic is not much of an issue. The main objective is to get out in time before the flames reach you, recognizing that you will almost surely lose everything in your home. Getting the information to the right people is critical.”