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UC Berkeley releases report on disaster evacuations

July 12, 2019

BERKELEY — A U.C. Berkeley team that conducted wildfire evacuation focus group research in Lake County released a report this week that recommends more use by government agencies of the sharing economy during disaster evacuations.

The report, entitled “Current State of the Sharing Economy and Evacuations: Lessons from California,” investigates the public perception and potential impacts of ridesharing and homesharing during events like the Mendocino Complex Fire of 2018, for which the Berkeley team hosted a Spanish-speaking focus group to study that demographic’s stance on sharing homes or vehicles during emergencies.

The Berkeley study’s primary authors, Stephen Wong and Susan Shaheen, write that “In many evacuations including wildfire evacuations, public agencies often do not have enough resources to evacuate and shelter all citizens.”

“Consequently,” they continue, “we propose that the sharing economy, through private companies and/or private citizens, could be leveraged in disasters for transportation and sheltering resources.”

The need for more efficient means of transport during and emergency evacuation was made horrifically clear during the Camp Fire in November when thousands of Paradise residents attempted to flee the approaching fire at once along just a few viable exit routes, resulting in congestion and many casualties.

In Lake County, roughly 19,000 residents were evacuated during the Mendocino Complex Fire last year. But in rural counties like Lake, Wong noted in an interview, the sharing economy manifests differently than it does in urban areas. Tech-based ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are hardly present in Lake County at all, and while homeshares through Airbnb are present here, most of the subjects in the Berkeley focus group were unaccustomed to using it...

Read the full article here: UC Berkeley releases report on disaster evacuations