This article explores Crowd Control and Crowd Management as another flavor of Queue Management.
There are many crowd related disasters and crowd related violence throughout history. Here is just one story:
Jan 14th 2010 – HARIDWAR, 6 dead, 12 injured. India: Hundreds of thousands of bathed in the icy waters of the Ganges river yesterday as a months-long Hindu festival expected to attract more than 10 million people kicked off in one of India’s holiest cities. The festival was marred by tragedy elsewhere in the country when pilgrims jostling to get to a river temple stampeded, crushing six elderly women and a child and injuring 12 pilgrims, police said. The stampede occurred as thousands of pilgrims tried to board boats to the island temple nearly 100km south of Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state, said Surajit Kar Purakayastha, an inspector-general of police. Along the river banks, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children entered the fast-moving waters in a ritual that is part of the Kumbh Mela, touted as the largest religious gathering in the world. Braving rain and cold weather, devotees from all over India in cars, buses, trains and tractor-driven carriages have been pouring into Haridwar, a temple-filled town at the foothills of the Himalayas. One pilgrim, Shyam Lal, 55, said, “It is Hindus’ belief that bathing in the Ganges river on the occasion purifies one’s soul. It also helps in controlling one’s desires in a materialistic world,” he said. Hundreds of tents have been spread out over a vast 130km2 area where more than 15 000 makeshift toilets have been erected and 10 000 people employed to keep the tent city clean, a festival organiser said. – Sapa-AP. Published on the web by Mercury on January 14, 2010. 1 2 3 4
Lessons from Queueing Theory can inform our perspective on crowds and how to prevent disasters that can come from crowd-related violence such as a stampede, mob violence, evacuation, and crowd management and planning.
A Few Concepts
A few terms relevant to our discussion:
- Focal Route Analysis: A study of the primary routes to the destination, including routes to the turnstiles, kiosks, front desk, and the entry or exit door.
- Crowd Craze: This a term used to describe a deliberate attempt to create a large group, usually for an event
Crowd Craze and Queueing
In General, crowd violence follows a similar model in Queueing typically called WIP Explosion – that is, when the capacity of a system has reached its near maximum. The difference in crowd control is not so much the capacity, but how the units in the system are behaving – in the case of crowds, it’s how people are behaving and how the crowd is behaving en masse.
Visually, the chart below shows WIP Explosion, in general:
Crowd Control and Queueing Applications
Consider the picture below:
What do you see? Is there an ordered line? Can you tell where the people are supposed to self-organize?
If there is no focal route, that is a signal of risk that a crowd-related disaster might happen. What might be done to the line above to encourage and enforce order and thereby preventing potential violence?
Now consider the picture below?
A small hole in the fence such as the above picture shows draws focus away from the focal route and brings the focus to this very small hole in the fence. As with most things, a small hole such as the above can quickly create mob mentality and crowd violence – imagine hundreds of people, within seconds, trying to get through a small hole in the fence – yes, that is a recipe for crowd craze. Often, it can happen in seconds.
There are many opportunities for Queueing Theorists in the “real world”. Our discussion on Crowd Control is just one.
- You may find more stories in the footnote, courtesy of www.gkstill.com/CrowdDisasters.html ↩
- Sunday, April 25, 2010 World Cup Countdown – pensioner dies in ticket crush. A 64-year-old pensioner died while queuing in central Cape Town, number 565 in the line, while there were riots at other selling points. The Cape Town queue, like others around the country, began to build up last Wednesday afternoon, with people skipping work to get their hands on the prized tickets for the 64 World Cup matches. Around 120,000 of the tickets were available to South Africans for as little as $19, the lowest price at a World Cup for many years. To add to the frenzy, FIFA announced that 300 late tickets would be released for the final — a game it previously said had been sold out — for $142. In the capital Pretoria, police used pepper spray on people fighting in the doorway of a FIFA outlet, while fights were also broken up in Johannesburg. Television pictures showed desperate fans – and ticket touts – scuffling over the discounted seats, having queued all night with no food or water. Tempers flared as the computer system serving 11 outlets in the nine host cities crashed minutes after opening. The discount followed dire sales in South Africa, where football is largely followed by those with limited access to the internet or credit cards. The complex system used by FIFA on its website was alien to most locals, who are accustomed to paying cash for their tickets on match days. Officials acknowledged mistakes had been made and launched a new system of sales through ticketing offices and supermarkets, hoping to sell out the tournament as they are keen to make sure no empty seats remain when games are beamed to living rooms and bars across the globe this summer. Over 2.3m of the 2.7m tickets have now been sold for the tournament, which kicks off on June 11. Of the tournament’s 64 matches, 29 have sold out, including the opening and final matches, and both semi-finals. ↩
- 2010 – June 28th More than 100 taken to hospitals during Electric Daisy Carnival. Two-day electronic music festival drew 185,000. Officials say 226 people suffered injuries, 114 of whom went to hospitals. Extent of injuries was not known. By Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times. June 28, 2010. More than 100 people were taken to hospitals and dozens were arrested during a two-day electronic music festival at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and at Exposition Park, authorities said.The 14th annual Electric Daisy Carnival, which featured carnival rides, five stages and performances by Moby, Will.i.am, Steve Aoki and Deadmau5, drew a total of 185,000 people on Friday and Saturday, said Alexandra Greenberg, a publicist for the event. Because of the size of the event, paramedics were stationed at an on-site command post, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Devin Gales said. Over the two days, 226 injuries were reported, 114 of which required attention at hospitals. No deaths were reported, and the extent of the injuries was not known. Some injuries were a result of people rushing gates in an attempt to overwhelm security and get inside without the required $75 ticket. Some attendees who had tickets were seen climbing barriers to VIP sections. Greenberg declined to comment about the arrests and injuries. An Exposition Park safety official also said he could not comment. Andres Casas, 30, was sitting in the stands of the at-capacity Coliseum about 7 p.m. Saturday when he saw hundreds surge onto the field, climbing fences and trampling food and drink tents. “It was like a waterfall of people,” he said. “They actually had to stop the music and the emcee yelled to stop acting like fools.” The Los Angeles Police Department had a heavy presence at the event, deploying at least two helicopters and stationing officers along the perimeter of the venue. The department reported 63 people arrested Saturday night, nine of them juveniles. Offenses included possession and sale of narcotics, trespassing and drinking in public. The Electric Daisy Carnival was held from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. both days and was open to ages 16 and up. It was produced by Insomniac Events, an L.A.-based promotions company that also hosts a similar New Year’s Eve event. ↩
- 24th July 2010. Druisberg, Germany – 21 dead and A memorial service will be held today for the 21 people who died at loveparade last Saturday. The catalyst of the problem was the overcrowding in the 100 metre long and 16 metre wide tunnel after which local police closed the grounds. The tunnel rapidly became stuffed up and hot with thousands of people inside. Panic spread like wildfire as people collapsed. Some tried to escape via a ladder but fell nine metres as they tried to escape. 10 people were resuscitated there and then. Medical staff on the scene said that the 15 people who died at the festival died from asphyxiation and back injuries. 6 more people would die in hospital. Despite safety experts, fire officers and police warnings the festival went ahead on the insufficient 230,000 square metres (considering at least 1 million people would attend) and 21 people suffered the consequences. 30th July 1755 GMT German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to attend tomorrow’s funeral for the victims of last Saturday’s incident. It will be an Ecumenical church service, accompanied by a live screening at the Duisburg football stadium for up to 25,000 people. 550 places are reserved at Duisburg’s main Protestant Church ‘Salvatorkirche’ for relatives of the dead as well as the injured. Sauerland has enjoyed popularity in Duisburg prior to the loveparade however this has plumetted since the disaster that was loveparade. Members from his political party the CDU (Christian Democrat Party) have suggested he should resign. However Sauerland claims that he did not sign any official permission for the event and so is not directly to blame for the incidents. On Wednesday an initial police report put the blame on the private organiser of the event saying that agreed security measures had not been implemented. In an interview with www.bild.de the organiser of the loveparade Rainer Schaller confirmed that the company has ‘a liability insurance of over €7.5 million’. He also said that the company will analyse the causes and question the 2,000 members of staff. Schaller has also announced that the festival will not take place again. Axa insurance granted an advance of €1 million as emergency aid for the victims of the event, Schaller has also contributed to this aid. Prosecutors, in the early stages of investigation are looking at the organizers for a litany of safety flaws resulting in the loveparade tragedy. According to the State Chief of Police, Dieter Wehe, the blame for the chain of mistakes by which 500 people were injured rests with the organizers. Initial mistakes were cited as: 1. The opening of the grounds 2 hours before earlier than expected leading to a block in the tunnel. Police found it difficult to control the crowds because of this early start. 2.There were fewer stewards than promised on the day. 3. stewards did not react to an order to close the access points to stop the influx of people. 4. A lack of loud speakers around the tunnel area made it very difficult for police to vocally combat the magnitude of the music and crowds. Regarding the people who died on the 24th July it seems that as people tried to escape via a concrete set of steps, many were crushed against the railings and steps. This is the area where many people died. Fencing and debris on the ground caused people to trip up, resulting in a pile-on of people. The cause of death on the day was suffocation. The Interior Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia said’ I find it outrageous that the organizers and the city of Duisburg have absolved themselves of responsibility before all the facts are known’. According to the Cologne based newsgroup Stadt-Anzeiger the head of Duisburg’s fire brigade contacted Mayor Adolf Sauerland in October 2009 to say that the loveparade venue, a disused railway freight grounds, were ‘physically not suitable’. An estimated 1.4 million people attended the festival but according to the Spiegel magazine the festival only had authorisation for 250,000 revellers. The investigation into the 20 deaths is looking at ‘negligent manslaughter’ and ‘negligent bodily harm’. No-one has been accused yet. The following are rumours 1. The Mayor had been warned by the Chief Fire Officer in advance that the area was not suitable for the expected crowd. 2. Local police and/or a private security company sealed one end of the tunnel when the grounds became too full 3. The Duisburg Council and/or the festival organisers should have not have allowed the event to take place at the location. 4. The police warned of the risk involved with staging the festival but were ignored. ↩