Interdisciplinary study of crowd behaviour

Project details

Full project title: Interdisciplinary study of crowd behaviour

Sponsor: HEAT@UWE

Project Manager: Dr Ana Sendova-Franks

Centre for Transport and Society (CTS) project team: Dr Erel Avineri, Dr E. Owen D. Waygood

Other project researchers: Dr Alison Hooper, Dr Jan Van Lent

Start date: August 2010

Finish date: August 2011

Project briefing sheet: Download the briefing sheet (PDF)

Project summary

The main goals of this project are to consider existing literature on manipulative experiments of social insects and modelling of social interactions in light of relevance to the design of public spaces.

A review of existing literature on crowd flow from areas such as travel behaviour, collective animal behaviour and complex systems theory, will concentrate on identifying testable hypotheses and investigate the feasibility of a multidisciplinary research project. We will focus on:

  1. Manipulative experiments - crowd flow control requires an understanding of the dynamical link between individual and collective behaviour, but social interactions are notoriously difficult to study in humans. Certain social insect colonies lend themselves to manipulative experiments (eg traffic flow in nest channels during nest emigration in rock ants);
  2. Modelling of social interaction - this has been done mainly through individual-based simulations. To analyse and generalise the results of such models, and set experiments correctly, we need mathematical modelling. A natural source is fluid dynamics. However, there are differences between fluid and crowd flow, existing equations have to be modified and methods for incorporating social interactions identified; and
  3. Relevance to human behaviour and the design of public spaces.