One recent talk that stood out to me was given by Marc Goerigk and talked about how operational research can be used to help improve evacuation planning for emergencies. For example unexploded WWII era bombs, Lancaster floods or terrorist incidents.
The ideas I will talk about are to do with using an optimisation approach to give a good lower bound on the evacuation time. Simulation techniques on the other hand are more useful for finding an upper bound on the evacuation time.
A clever thing to do when we are trying to model real world places is to try and represent the place in a network. Essentially we can take a map and represent it in a graph network using nodes and arcs. Arcs generally represent paths or roads and nodes the intersection of these paths and roads. This allows us to simplify tricky features such as curved roads into nice straight lines.