The Mathematics Of Crowd Safety

Author / Mark Breen
26 Feb ‘17
We use maths every day in our work. We understand the importance of the numbers and their impact on the safety of our audiences.

The mathematics of crowds

At its most basic, we use maths to ascertain how many people can fit in a space.

The graphic below illustrates 2 people per square metre, which is often considered the safe starting point for crowds and is used the world over a first-pass approximation to figure out how many people can fit somewhere.

Beyond how many people physically fit in a space of X metres by Y metres, there are a multitude of ways mathematics plays a key role in the safe event management planning of events of all sizes.

Examples include:

  • Rate of entry through turnstiles
  • Rate of entry through search
  • Crowd density in different areas - bar, pit area / golden circle, main crowd area etc.
  • Rate of crowd flow when exiting
  • Rate of crowd flow when exiting in an emergency
  • Site-suitability assessments
  • Number of exits required to allow for safe capacity of X
  • Exiting capacity from a room / venue in both normal & emergency conditions
  • Channel widths required for queuing & processing of X amount of people
  • Relationship between crowd density and flow speed
  • Wait time for entry
  • Width of confined area in which crowd are moving and how this affects speed / flow 
  • Queuing system design for X amount of expected attendees in what is an acceptable timeframe

There are plenty more.

The bottom line

Not all of the above examples come into play for every event we work on. It's important to be able to figure out what calculations need to be used on what event and under what circumstances.

If you need help with the maths on your next event then contact us.

We're Crowd & Event Safety specialists

Images courtesy of Prof. G Keith Still