If you’re in a crowd and people are close enough to bump you, it can get too crowded.
That’s according to G. Keith Still, a visiting professor of crowd science at Suffolk University and director of GKStill International, a consultancy that trains event organizers on how to spot danger.
Such events, such as the apparent crowd surge at the Halloween celebrations in the South Korean capital Seoul, and the tragedy at the Astronomy World Festival in Houston in November. In 2021, many people have been killed and injured.
Still, having been studying the dynamics of crowd behavior and safety for more than 30 years, he said organizers could help prevent crowd-crushing events by monitoring crowd density in real time and regulating the flow of people entering the venue.
Crowd density can be calculated in people per square meter (about one square yard). Younger, smaller people take up less space than older and larger people, but typically once you hit five people per square metre, things get uncomfortable, any more crowded, Steele said. anywhere becomes dangerous.
“The high energy and density can cause these surges and crowd collapse when physical contact occurs,” Steele said.
One sign that crowds are getting too dense is what Steele calls the “wheatfield effect,” where people sway uncontrollably. An example can be seen in an online video of an Oasis concert in Manchester, England, in 2005, just before a wave of the crowd rushed to the stage, he said.
Steel said the key to preventing disasters is for organizers to watch the density and, if it starts to rise, slow or stop the flow of people into the area. Once the situation becomes too dense, it will be difficult to reduce crowding, he said.
If the venue does get too crowded, Steele said, performers should stop and ask everyone to take a step back. Several performers, including A$AP Rocky and Linkin Park, have done it over the years.
If you’re in a crowd, Steele says you can help keep yourself safe by paying attention to areas that are likely to become the most crowded, and if you don’t have enough personal space, you can get out of the crowd.
You can learn more by viewing the interactive graphics Gentlemen.