From crowd dynamics to crowd safety: A video-based analysis

A Johansson, D Helbing, H Z Al-Abideen, S Al-Bosta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

191 Citations (Scopus)


The study of crowd dynamics is interesting because of the various self-organization phenomena resulting from the interactions of many pedestrians, which may improve or obstruct their flow. Besides formation of lanes of uniform walking direction and oscillations at bottlenecks at moderate densities, it was recently discovered that stop-and-go waves [D. Helbing et al., Phys. Rev. Lett.97 (2006) 168001] and a phenomenon called "crowd turbulence" can occur at high pedestrian densities [D. Helbing et al., Phys. Rev. E75 (2007) 046109]. Although the behavior of pedestrian crowds under extreme conditions is decisive for the safety of crowds during the access to or egress from mass events as well as for situations of emergency evacuation, there is still a lack of empirical studies of extreme crowding. Therefore, this paper discusses how one may study high-density conditions based on suitable video data. This is illustrated at the example of pilgrim flows entering the previous Jamarat Bridge in Mina, 5 kilometers from the Holy Mosque in Makkah, Saudi-Arabia. Our results reveal previously unexpected pattern formation phenomena and show that the average individual speed does not go to zero even at local densities of 10 persons per square meter. Since the maximum density and flow are different from measurements in other countries, this has implications for the capacity assessment and dimensioning of facilities for mass events. When conditions become congested, the flow drops significantly, which can cause stop-and-go waves and a further increase of the density until critical crowd conditions are reached. Then, "crowd turbulence" sets in, which may trigger crowd disasters. For this reason, it is important to operate pedestrian facilities sufficiently below their maximum capacity and to take measures to improve crowd safety, some of which are discussed in the end.
Translated title of the contributionFrom crowd dynamics to crowd safety: A video-based analysis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497 - 527
JournalAdvances in Complex Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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