University of Greenwich FSEG
University of Ulster FireSERT
University of Liverpool Centre for Investigative Psychology

HEED: High-rise Evacuation Evaluation Database



Project HEED was a 3.5 year project (1 Sept 2004 to 30 April 2008) fully funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the equivalent of the US National Science Foundation, with a budget of £UK1.6 million (through grants GR/S74201/01 and EP/D507790). The project was a collaboration between three UK universities, the Universities of Greenwich, Ulster and Liverpool and brings together the UKís leading experts in Fire Safety Engineering and evacuation behaviour.

Project HEED investigated human behaviour associated with the evacuation of high rise buildings. The basis of the project was an analysis of the World Trade Center (WTC) evacuation of 11 September 2001 through face to face interviews with survivors and advanced computer simulation. The evacuation of the WTC complex represents one of the largest full-scale evacuations of people in modern times. The survivors hold a tremendous amount of invaluable information concerning their experiences of the conditions within the towers and the evolving evacuation scenario.


 The overall aims of project HEED were to:

(a) capture the human experience data arising from the WTC disaster through face to face interviews and questionnaires;
(b) structure the data in a manner that is accessible for current and future research and
(c) take the first steps in using this information to inform the development of future building regulations and building evacuation software models.


Through project HEED almost 300 survivors from the WTC evacuation were interviewed, generating almost 6000 pages of interview transcripts and large amounts of detailed data regarding the evacuation of the twin towers. The interview transcripts and the data extracted from the transcripts are contained within the HEED database - one of the main outputs from project HEED - which is accessible via these internet pages (see HEED DATABASE tab at the top of this page).

The accomplishments of project HEED include:

1) developing and implemented an interview protocol capable of capturing the behavioural experiences of those who evacuated from the WTC twin towers;
2) developing an interactive on-line relational database (the HEED database) of the evacuees' experiences which includes full interview transcripts, allowing bona fide engineers, researchers and code officials rapid access to the collected information;
3) undertaking preliminary analysis of the collected information to identify and quantify some of the key issues that influence building evacuation;
4) undertaking detailed analysis of the evacuation of the North Tower of the WTC through advanced computer simulation and using these findings to comment on the viability of full-building evacuation by stairs;
5) the identification of current strengths and weaknesses in evacuation modelling technology and providing a basis for developing improved behavioural algorithms for high-rise building evacuation models.

Publications arising from the HEED database can be found on the PUBLICATIONS pages (see tabs at the top of the page).


The HEED project team are deeply indebted to the 9/11 evacuees who gave, and continue to give, so generously of their time. We are also indebted to the UK EPSRC for funding this work and to the following list of supporters of the HEED project without whose assistance the project would have been impossible:

FSEG LOGO   The HEED web pages are hosted by   The Queen's Anniversary Prize 2002 The British Computer Society IT Awards 2001 The European IST Prize Winner 2003


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