Stamping Out Human Stampedes

Every individual within a crowd ten-thousand strong can be accounted for within the simulation. (Photo: REPKA / TUM)

Hardly a year passes without news of a major stampede in which people die because of dangerous bottlenecks or unexpected obstacles that obstruct crowd movement. Working with a number of public and private sector partners, engineers and computer scientists at the Technical University Munich (TUM) have created a crowd simulation program that they hope will help prevent such disasters.

Even supposedly minor obstructions can have a major impact on crowd dynamics. We can use the program to run any number of ‘what-if’ simulations. We know, for example, that crowd formation varies in the event of a bottleneck depending on the width of a passage or route. We also know that people tend to follow other people.”

— Angelika Kneidl, Computational Modeling and Simulation Group, TUM

To help make emergency management considerably easier, the program is able to compute evacuation scenarios for major events at various venues by simulating the behavior of crowds numbering into the thousands. According to the TUM announcement, “Color-coded crowd densities and real-time simulations make it a particularly user-friendly application, especially as conventional microscopic simulations usually require a long time to compute.”

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© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.


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