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."
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
The Micro Drone 2.0+ is truly in a league of its own, offering a new perspective on aerial photography, and a world of technological capabilities that make flying ridiculously fun. Simply throw it in the air at any angle and its self-correcting algorithm will stabilize for smooth sailing in no time. You’ll stay entertained with […]
Celebrate Cyber Monday with some brain food. Save on any eLearning deal in the Boing Boing Store today using coupon code: CYBERMONDAY25. Below are a couple of our favorite eLearning offers: eduCBA Tech Training Bundle: Lifetime Subscription:Welcome to your personal online classroom, where you can finally study at your own pace, on your own time (and […]
This minimalist multi-tool will see to it that instead of rocking a tool belt, you’ll carry just one. It’s shaped slightly like a key and weighs less than an ounce, so it plays nice with your keychain. The strong surgical-grade stainless steel blade will last, and is handy for everyday tasks like opening boxes and […]