An EU-funded project is developing a framework for better predicting pedestrian behaviour that could save lives by helping to safely evacuate crowds in emergency situations.
© TimSiegert-batcam #122552623, source: fotolia.com, 2018
The kind of modelling used to keep vehicle traffic flowing in cities is no good when it comes to predicting the complex and collective behaviour of pedestrians. But accurate forecasting is essential for authorities to keep people moving safely and smoothly at large events such as festivals, football matches and demonstrations particularly when danger strikes.
Pedestrian behaviour is the result of a series of interdependent decisions. However, current simulation software is unable to present a realistic prediction of individual movements and crowd dynamics. Updated models are therefore essential for event organisers and local authorities when making decisions such as how many exits to open at a venue in normal circumstances and in case of emergency.
The EU-funded IPBMNES project addresses this challenge by aiming to develop a framework for pedestrian behaviour modelling based on mathematics and simulation tools. This framework could be used to advise local authorities and organisers of mass events in European cities, as well as for designing more efficient pedestrian facilities.
Specifically, researcher Venkatesan Kanagaraj at the Technical University Dresden in Germany is working on models that combine the complexities of vehicle traffic in places such as India with the behaviour of large crowds of people around football stadiums.
Kanagaraj, who received funding through the EUs Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship programme, has worked with drone operators at a football match in Croatia where he shot video of fans entering the ground through a single gate. He will examine the footage to study how people in a large crowd negotiate obstacles, with the findings feeding into his new framework.