• Germany's news in English

Experiment simulates chronic crowd crush

The Local · 21 Jun 2013, 07:53

Published: 21 Jun 2013 07:53 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"First there's a jam and then the pushing and shoving starts," said project leader Professor Armin Seyfried, who together with his team wants to find out exactly how much space is needed by a crowd to prevent dangerous situations arising.

If the team can find exact limits on the safe number of people per square metre, said Seyfried, this can be passed on to event planners and security forces so they can ensure enough space for expected numbers of visitors.

Such a limit would help avoid scenarios such as that in the 2010 Love Parade festival when a crowd got stuck in a bottleneck which served as both entrance and exit, resulting in a stampede in which 21 were killed and hundreds injured.

Seyfried's experiment simulates those kind of conditions by using large plastic rectangles to mark out an intersection in the middle of an exhibition hall. From all four sides groups of people walk towards the intersection at the same time, cross over and exit at the opposite side.

The volunteers wear white hats marked with codes so that the 24 cameras around the hall can closely track their movements down to the nearest centimetre.

The whole thing is then repeated with wider entrances and more people.

Three hundred and fifty people kicked off the large-scale experiment on Wednesday in Düsseldorf. Over several days the number of participants was set to swell to around 1,000 at a time.

"Before it can get dangerous there will be a stop signal," Seyfried told volunteers over the microphone, then blew into his whistle. "When I blow the whistle, everyone stand still."

Current scientific estimates suppose that in order to be safe, a crowd should thin out to at least between four and 10 people per square metre if everyone is moving in the same direction. Seyfried's team think that estimate should be narrower - between five and seven people per square metre.

A later experiment will look at how much space is needed when there is traffic going in two directions, a factor which can often lead to the kind of chaos seen in the Love Parade, where two colliding streams of people wanted to get in and out over the same ramp.

In situations like that scientists believe that crowds could come to a complete standstill even with just 3.5 to 4 people per square metre. At the Love Parade the crowd density was much higher.

Story continues below…

“We took measurements from photos of the [scene at the] Love Parade and found that there were seven to eight people per square metre,“ said Seyfried.

DPA/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Munich to get 'nice toilets' to serve cross-legged locals
Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital has a pee problem - the city only has one public toilet for every 13,000 inhabitants. But a new plan could rescue desperate locals, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

German kids get glowing report for their English skills
Photo: DPA.

As if multilingual Germans don't already put many English-speakers to shame, now the younger generation is improving their English skills even more.

Berlin museum controversially recreates Hitler bunker
The reconstruction of the Hitler bunker. Photo: DPA

Sensationalized or compelling history? Berlin museums clash over new Nazi bunker exhibit

Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd