13.04.2016 : Martin Peat

Crowd modelling in Rio

The Rio 2016 Olympics are a one-off opportunity. The world’s watching and there’s one chance to get it right. If you don’t, everyone is going to know about it.

Martin Peat on the basics of crowd modelling, how it works and some important things to look out for.

Beca was involved in the crowd modelling at the Rio Olympics which involves looking at spectator movements from one place to another. In this case, it’s people jumping off the trains and buses, and making their way into the venue.

The main inputs to crowd modelling are the competition schedule and the capacity of the venues. This is really important because it looks at when people arrive.

When we designed the flows, in particular at the Olympic Park, we came up with a solution that had the majority of people walking on the right-hand side. This proved to be more natural and was easier to manage than trying to force people to do something that they’re not used to.

When we’re crowd modelling, there are a number of tools that we can use. For quick and easy calculations, an Excel spreadsheet is all that's needed. The more detail we need to go into, the more we start looking at special computer software that simulates the movement of people. What we end up with is a drawing of the venue and ‘little dots’ running around, leaving the venue, going through the walkways and leaving the exit.

As part of that, the software knows about the interactions between people and speeds people up or slows people down depending on how many people are around.

Olympics are a one-off opportunity. It’s a huge event and it only lasts for two weeks for the Olympics and two weeks for the Paralympics. The world’s watching and there’s one opportunity to get it right. If you don’t, everybody’s is going to know about it.
About the Author

Martin Peat

Associate - Transportation

Martin was formerly based in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, where he led a crowd modelling project for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In 2016, Martin received the IPENZ Young Engineer of the Year Award and the 2016 NZAEP New Zealand Event Awards, Emerging Event Professional of the Year. 

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