CCTV Can Offer Early Warning of Crowd Panic Problems

Sherry Harowitz

The New Scientist reports on new research findings that analysis of surveillance camera footage could help people spot and warn of dangerous tensions developing in crowds that are on the verge of panic, which might allow officials to avert the problem.

Researchers Dirk Helbing of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich,  Anders Johansson of Dresden University of Technology, Germany, and HE Habib Al-Abideen from Saudi Arabia's Central Directorate for Holy Areas Development used software to study video footage of the stampede that occurred on Saudi Arabia's Jamarat Bridge during the Hajj of 2006. 

They found that "Sharp compression waves moved through the crowd...and the waves of movement travelled through the crowd every 45 seconds." Then, "At even higher densities, the crowd's movement became turbulent."

Helbing hypothesize that "in the future, organisers of events could use his software to analyse live CCTV footage and direct emergency services to areas where the tension is building up," the article says. The findings were detailed in a paper presented at the Fifth International Conference on Nonlinear Mechanics.






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