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17 May 2006 PR 06/52

Crowd research may help people to escape disaster situations

Crowd experts at Loughborough University are studying people’s movements in public places, to help devise more effective escape routes in the event of terrorist attacks or other disaster situations.

The Centre for Innovative Collaborative Engineering has already looked at ways of improving crowd circulation in sports stadia and secondary schools, where large numbers of people are often on the move.

Now they are analysing other public spaces to identify patterns in crowd movements and how congestion can be avoided.

Professor Dino Bouchlaghem, who is leading the project, said: “This work is very important. There is very little information for architects, when they are designing buildings, about people’s movements within the space.

“We want to look at tube stations or potential disaster situations, where there are large scale evacuations. Unless we can predict how people will move around a space, we will not be able to provide suitable circulation areas and accurate escape routes. This is particularly pertinent with events like the Olympic Games coming up.”

The Centre is also planning to look at retail spaces. By studying the way in which people move around shops, it may be possible to collect information that will help supermarkets and other large retailers to maximise sales.


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Notes to editors

  1. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

    In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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