crowds motion

Social and cultural aspects for crowds motion prediction

New research shows that crowds motion can be predict with physics fluids models. But this is not enough. Social and cultural aspects are also important in risk prevention, as our European research project show.


Crowds move like a fluid and we can predict their path. These are the results of a research published on Science and guided by Nicolas Bain and Denis Bartolo of the Laboratoire de Physique de l’ENS de Lyon, University of Lyon. Their team overcame the difficulties of performing quantitative measurement in model experiments, studying tens of thousands of road-race participants in starting corrals during the Chicago’s marathons. Thanks to these observations, they have laid out a model of polarized crowds based on physics hydrodynamic theory of fluids, demonstrating its predictive power.

Social and cultural aspects in risk prevention

Modelling crowd motion plays a central role in risk prevention in mass events. However, there are other factors to take into consideration. They are related to social and cultural aspects that may affect the behaviour of crowds, especially during emergencies. Deep Blue studied the impact of cultural aspects in the management of emergencies within the IMPACT project of the Horizon 2020 European program. The project has identified some key factors playing an important role in the emergency management, such as response to stress, risk perception, situational awareness, reaction time, and the attitude to create groups with well-known people or people with similar cultural characteristics.

We are currently involved in the LETSCROWD European Project, supporting the European Security Model of mass gatherings. The project has modelled the behaviour of crowds during large mass events, trying to understand when behaviours could be potential precursors to security problems. In the next two years, LETSCROWD aims to provide:

    • A dynamic risk assessment methodology for the protection of crowds during mass gatherings centred on human factors in order to effectively produce policies and deploy adequate solutions.
    • A policy making toolkit for the long-term and strategic decision making of security policy makers, including a database of empirical data, statistics and an analytical tool for security policies modelling.
    • A set of human centred tools for the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), including real time crowd behaviour forecasting, innovative communication procedures, semantic intelligence applied to social networks and the internet, and novel computer vision techniques.

LETSCROWD aims to involve citizens to explore the public perception of security with respect to mass gatherings, taking into account people’s perspective: if you are glad to give your contribution, join the LETSCROWD’s survey.

Giorgio Sestili