Self-Organized Pedestrian Crowd Dynamics: Experiments, Simulations, and Design Solutions

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To test simulation models of pedestrian flows, we have performed experiments for corridors, bottleneck areas, and intersections. Our evaluations of video recordings show that the geometric boundary conditions are not only relevant for the capacity of the elements of pedestrian facilities, they also influence the time gap distribution of pedestrians, indicating the existence of self-organization phenomena. After calibration of suitable models, these findings can be used to improve design elements of pedestrian facilities and egress routes. It turns out that “obstacles” can stabilize flow patterns and make them more fluid. Moreover, intersecting flows can be optimized, utilizing the phenomenon of “stripe formation.” We also suggest increasing diameters of egress routes in stadia, theaters, and lecture halls to avoid long waiting times for people in the back, and shock waves due to impatience in cases of emergency evacuation. Moreover, zigzag-shaped geometries and columns can reduce the pressure in panicking crowds. The proposed design solutions are expected to increase the efficiency and safety of train stations, airport terminals, stadia, theaters, public buildings, and mass events in the future. As application examples we mention the evacuation of passenger ships and the simulation of pilgrim streams on the Jamarat bridge. Adaptive escape guidance systems, optimal way systems, and simulations of urban pedestrian flows are addressed as well.

This article is part of the Transportation Science Classics collection, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the journal.

This article also appears in INFORMS Analytics Collections Vol. 15: 25 Years of INFORMS.

Visit this collection for free access to more articles showcasing the evolution of INFORMS over the past 25 years.

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