Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
28
Sep 14

The Mathematics Of Crowd Movement

It doesn't take a genius to understand that crowds of people might behave differently depending on what they're doing - queuing, standing, moving to bathrooms or bars etc., normal exiting and emergency exiting and more. Mathematics comes into play big time in understanding all of this and being able to manage it all properly.

The mathematics of crowds

Mathematics comes into planning for crowds at events in so many ways that there's simply no avoiding it.

Some of those include:

  • Rate of entry through turnstiles
  • Crowd density in different areas - bar, pit area, main crowd area etc.
  • Rate of crowd flow when exiting
  • Rate of crowd flow when exiting in an emergency
  • Number of exits required to allow for safe capacity of X
  • Relationship between crowd density and speed of flow
  • Width of confined area in which crowd are moving and how this affects speed / flow 

There are loads more. 

Not all will be a factor for every event, perhaps, but if you're to be good at Event Safety and understanding, planning and managing for crowds then you need to understand the mathematics involved. 

Maths and Mark

Maths is not the strong point and never has been.

When I was studying for my Leaving Cert I did Honours Maths up until Easter of 6th year, at which point I decided I didn't need it for points and that the amount of time it was taking me to understand wasn't worth it. I moved to what was affectionately termed 'the sums class' (Ordinary Level Maths) and left differentiation and integration behind me.  

I enjoyed leaving it behind. I'm not going to lie. 

That said. . . 

Learning from the best

This week sees members of the Cuckoo Team - Martin, Mags, Rob and myself heading up to Belfast to take a Crowd Risk Analysis course being given by Prof. Dr. G. Keith Still who is widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on crowd dynamics and the safe planning for large crowds. 

I first came across Keith when I was in UL and LONG before I thought I'd be working in events full time. I found his PHD Thesis online and read it with interest, despite my brain not being the best, mathematically. 

We're looking forward to 3 days in Keith's company learning to understand crowds and their movements even better. 

We'll fill you in afterwards on how it went and what we learned.

 
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