Crowd safety at Hajj – Simulation modeling

Hajj crowds near the Kaaba.

Emergency evacuation planning for mass gatherings is essential public safety and security work for authorities and can help save lives. Imran Mahmood and Muhammad Haris of the National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan, and Hessam Sarjoughian of Arizona State University, USA, have used an AnyLogic based crowd simulation and analysis framework to analyze emergency evacuation strategies for one of the world’s greatest mass gatherings: Hajj.

The aim of their work was to evaluate crowd modeling techniques and develop a framework to support decision making for emergency planning and evacuation policies.

As the paper reveals, modeling mass gatherings is the focus of much study. It is a computationally intensive task that must consider the spatial environment and be able to simulate complex individual behavior in large crowds. Furthermore, to be truly useful, the modeling environment should easily integrate optimization and analysis.

Crowd simulation analysis framework.

Crowd simulation analysis framework.

The team chose AnyLogic to develop their crowd evacuation framework because of its agent-based modeling abilities, Pedestrian Library, and the modeling environment’s optimization and visualization capabilities.

Spatial model of near the Kaaba.

Spatial model of near the Kaaba.

Through using Hajj, in Makkah, as a case study, the paper clearly demonstrates the scale of gatherings that public safety and evacuation planning must consider. Three million people converge on the site, for an extended period, and crowd densities can reach 6-7 people per square meter. The paper contains many interesting insights into crowd extremes.

Evacuation times for different scenarios.

Evacuation times for different scenarios.

By harnessing AnyLogic's simulation modeling capabilities, the team have developed a robust framework for crowd modeling and the analysis of evacuation policies. It is also an excellent example of the Pedestrian Library at work.

Pedestrian flow control.

Pedestrian flow control.

The tool is suitable for Public Safety and Security and can easily be deployed in organizations working in this field. In the future, the team propose the integration of sensors and actuators to help manage crowds in real time.

Read on and review the paper!

❔ Would integrating sensors make it a mass-gathering digital twin? How would doing so be worthwhile? Have your say in the comments!

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