Crowd management is increasingly complicated due to the complex layout of many modern buildings.
3D modelling solutions could provide the answer. Traditional calculations using the US National Fire Protection Association codes are insufficient to deal with the sheer complexity of the issue. Real time 3D simulations identify crowd flows, natural bottlenecks, preferred exits and timings, all for different emergency scenarios.
Mott MacDonald's STEPS - Simulation of Transient Evacuation and Pedestrian movements - is leading the field with particular emphasis on emergency evacuation modelling.
Able to assess people with different degrees of patience, levels of fitness, site familiarity, age, gender, size and even whether or not they have luggage, STEPS has been used on Heathrow's T5 to the satisfaction of Her Majesty's Rail Inspectorate.
Other major transport termini where STEPS has been used include airports in Hong Kong, Vancouver and Minneapolis and metros in London, Athens and Copenhagen.
STEPS has been on the market for six months and has been used to analyse fire safety at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle. Using computational flow dynamics (CFD) to analyse the smoke movement, STEPS proved the exit times for all possible scenarios would keep the public a safe distance from the worst smoke.
Obviously a high level of mathematical background understanding is required to calculate the smoke movement using CFD, but the STEPS program works from the basic principles of people movement.
'On three occasions now we have had teenage students come into the office on short term placements, and after just a few days, they have quickly and quite naturally got to grips with the whole program, ' says Mott MacDonald Simulation Group senior engineer, Nick Waterson.
INFOPLUS STEPS is available on various packages for a basic fee of around £3,000. More information and a free demonstration are available from STEPS@mottmac. com