EPJ Data Science - Countering crowd control collapse

EPJ Data Science - Countering crowd control collapse
© Angel Herrero de Frutos, iStockphotos, 138179229

Understanding crowd dynamics can prevent disaster at cultural or sports events.

Physicists investigating a recent crowd disaster in Germany found that one of the key causes was that at some point the crowd dynamics turned turbulent, akin to behaviour found in unstable fluid flows. The study, led by Dirk Helbing from the Risk Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich, Switzerland, is published in EPJ Data Science.

Never before have crowd disasters been studied by relying on a qualitative analysis of large public data sets. These include media and public authority reports, YouTube videos, Google Earth maps, 360? photographs, and other Internet sources. Based on this approach, the authors shed some new light on the crowd disaster that occurred at the Love Parade in Duisburg, Germany, in July 2010, leaving 21 dead and over 500 injuried.

The study focuses on the dynamics occurring when the density of people becomes very high. Physical interactions then inadvertently transfer forces from one body to another, similar to the pressure in dense granular materials. Under such conditions, Helbing and his colleague found that forces in the crowd add up and vary greatly. This makes it hard to avoid a domino effect when people fall. The forces are so high they can become life-threatening. They cannot be controlled by external police efforts. A collective dynamic called ‘crowd turbulence’ is created.
Contrary to previous thinking, crowd disasters are not always due to crowds becoming uncontrollable because individuals panic. Instead, the authors conclude that amplifying feedback and cascading effects lead to instability in the crowd. This results in a failure of crowd management and control attempts.

The authors also introduce a new scale to assess the criticality of conditions in the crowd designed to help implement preventative measures before the crowd reaches a critical state.

This was our first experience of publishing with EPJ Web of Conferences. We contacted the publisher in the middle of September, just one month prior to the Conference, but everything went through smoothly. We have had published MNPS Proceedings with different publishers in the past, and would like to tell that the EPJ Web of Conferences team was probably the best, very quick, helpful and interactive. Typically, we were getting responses from EPJ Web of Conferences team within less than an hour and have had help at every production stage.
We are very thankful to Solange Guenot, Web of Conferences Publishing Editor, and Isabelle Houlbert, Web of Conferences Production Editor, for their support. These ladies are top-level professionals, who made a great contribution to the success of this issue. We are fully satisfied with the publication of the Conference Proceedings and are looking forward to further cooperation. The publication was very fast, easy and of high quality. My colleagues and I strongly recommend EPJ Web of Conferences to anyone, who is interested in quick high-quality publication of conference proceedings.

On behalf of the Organizing and Program Committees and Editorial Team of MNPS-2019, Dr. Alexey B. Nadykto, Moscow State Technological University “STANKIN”, Moscow, Russia. EPJ Web of Conferences vol. 224 (2019)

ISSN: 2100-014X (Electronic Edition)

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