13 Dez 2018

Event Security: ‘Simulation tests intuition.’

An interview about the technology behind pedestrian simulation with Dr. Kneidl from accu:rate GmbH.

Be it a concert, festival or sporting event – thousands meet in a limited space. As a patron, you can only enjoy an event if you feel safe. But for the event planner, creating a safety concept is often incredibly challenging. New technologies such as computer based pedestrian simulations can help. But what does that mean exactly? Dr. Kneidl explains the use and application of microscopic simulations.

What are pedestrian simulations?

Pedestrian simulations reveal the relationship between time and space that arise as a result of crowd dynamics. You can see where people will be located at any time.

How can software developers know how people move? Can you anticipate that?  

We try to translate observed phenomena into models that a computer understands. In general, psychologists and cognitive scientists investigate the behaviour and we work closely with them. We cannot "anticipate reality" - but by incorporating recurring patterns, we can make very good predictions.

But people do not all behave in the same way…

That's true. But humans adapt to each other as they move in large groups. Certain basic patterns occur again and again and can therefore be mapped. For example, we avoid oncoming pedestrians because it costs energy.

Of course, we cannot know which way an individual will choose at a certain moment, but basic patterns of movement and their effects can be represented well with statistics.

Where is a simulation used?

A simulation is always useful if intuition is insufficient or an emergency cannot be practised.

For example: an event moves to a new location that it wasn’t built for; or a client wants to change the layout of a venue; or a football stadium with 40,000 fans must be evacuated. It would be nice to do such evacuation exercises in advance, but it is not realistic. A simulation can test concepts and processes in advance, so that they function as expected in reality.

Do simulations really increase the safety of events?

In principle, simulations always add value at events because they show, step by step, where and how crowds and congestion forms. They can detect vulnerabilities quickly and ultimately prevent catastrophes. Videos are easy to understand and simulation analyses provide valuable and objective tools for argumentation – especially for those responsible for security at an event.

Dr. Angelika Kneidl

accu:rate is a spin-off of the Computational Modelling and Simulation department of the Technical University of Munich. Dr. Angelika Kneidl acquired her Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University, with a focus on human navigational behaviour. For Angelika, it was and is important that the results of her research in pedestrian flow analysis are made available outside the confines of academia. With this in mind, she helped develop a new and unique simulation model, which, for four years, she has used to improve the planning and safety of events and architectural developments.

Simulation accu:rate


An example is the HanseSail in Rostock. When we simulated the port festival, one outcome was that the evacuation was slowed down by the placement of an additional escape route. This was due to the nature of the event site and the location of this escape route. Large traffic jams formed and people could not escape. By omitting this escape route, the total escape time could be lowered.

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