Scientists studying pedestrian motion are bringing crowd-control measures to the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of millions of Muslims to Mecca. In previous years, hundreds of people have been trampled to death in Mina, a town four miles away from Mecca where pilgrims gather to ritualistically throw stones at three pillars called the jamarat. Last year, Dirk Helbing, a professor of traffic modeling at the Desden University of Technology, and his colleagues were provided video of the 2006 Mina crowds. Based on computer simulation of crowd dynamics, they suggested measures to help alleviate the risk.
As the mêlée thickened, first the throng stopped passing steadily onto the bridge and instead moved in waves, so that individuals would be repeatedly stopping and starting. But then, as the crowd became even denser, it changed to another mode in which clumps of people were jostled in all directions, apparently at random and against their wish to move steadily towards the jamarat.
"Pilgrims were being pushed around," says Helbing. If they stumbled and didn't get back on their feet quickly enough, they were trampled. The movements look like those in a fluid when it becomes turbulent, which hasn't been seen before in human motion....
For the 2007 Hajj, Helbing consulted with the Saudi authorities to plan a new route and schedule that pilgrims would be compelled to follow, rather than meandering at will to the jamarat. "All 1.5 million registered pilgrims got a timetable and a route in order to distribute them uniformly in space and time," says Helbing. In case the more-than-a-million unregistered participants confounded this plan, they also had the capacity to use real-time data from surveillance cameras to alter the schedule, guided by their models of crowd behaviour. That capacity wasn't needed this year, but the scheme is in place for future...
Helbing says that several of the new measures were controversial, with some experts worrying it would make things worse. But the scheme was a success. An important step was to introduce a one-way system, with roads designated only for walkers coming from the stoning back to the camp. "Last year you had to push a lot to get to the camp," says Helbing. "This year you could comfortably follow the stream all the way. Everyone was very happy."
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it’s drama you crave, but the Hillary […]
If you own a dog, you’ve most likely heard of BarkBox – the monthly subscription box for dogs. What started as a simple idea to try out the subscription model on pet owners has since developed a cult following of dog lovers. If you haven’t given it a try yet, this one month free deal is the […]
With the iPhone headphone jack having gone by the wayside, we’re excited about the addition of the FRANKLIN Bluetooth Headphones in our store. These headphones are foldable so they’re easy to carry around, but most importantly, they pack impressive sound. Our biggest struggle with Bluetooth headphones is the worry of them dying at the worst moment. This pair lasts an impressive 8-10 […]
Evan Kimbrell, founder of the digital agency Sprintkick, recently released a series of online courses that feature some of the best advice we’ve come across. These courses are well worth your time, and will save you from making many typical mistakes down the line if you ever want to start your own business.With this Business […]