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Reporting period: 2020-11-01 to 2021-12-31

Crowd management is a difficult task. Large crowds gathering or heavy pedestrian traffic are events of serious concern for officials tasked with managing public spaces. In practice, crowd management is essentially performed without support of dedicated technologies. Some management scenarios can be studied from simulation but require simulation parameters that can be difficult to estimate. The EU-funded CrowdDNA project proposes a new technology based on innovative crowd simulation models. It facilitates predictions on the dynamics, behaviour and risk factors of high-density crowds, addressing the need for safe and comfortable mass events. The project suggests that the analysis of some specific macroscopic characteristics of a crowd such as its apparent motion can offer important information about its internal structure and allow the exact assessment of its state.

CrowdDNA is a radically new concept to assist public space operators in the management of crowds, i.e. mass event organization, heavy pedestrian traffic management, crowd movement analysis and decision support. CrowdDNA technology is based on a new generation of crowd simulation models, which are capable of predicting the dynamics, behaviour and risk factors of crowds of extreme density. The main idea behind CrowdDNA is that analysis of some specific macroscopic features of a crowd, such as its apparent motion (that can be easily measured in real mass events) can reveal a valuable information about the internal structure and provide a precise estimate of a crowd state. This challenges the existing paradigms in the field that rely on simulation technologies and require measuring the simulation variables to initialize it, such as density, counts or individual features which are each difficult to estimate. This vision raises one main scientific challenge, which can be summarized as the need for a deep understanding of the relations between the smallest scales of crowd behaviours (e.g. contact and pushes at the limb scale) and the largest ones up to the entire crowd. CrowdDNA is a first attempt to combine biomechanical and behavioural simulation in complex scenarios of interactions between many humans. It will revolutionize the practices of crowd management to answer the requirements of modern society on safety and comfort at mass events or in crowded transportation facilities. CrowdDNA builds the foundations of new research on crowds, and opens up new opportunities for studies on physical interaction across cognitive sciences and biomechanics, as well as robotics and autonomous vehicles for safe navigation among people.
CrowdDNA project duration is 4 years (48 months). The first period (14 months) can be viewed as a "design and implementation" phase whereas perdiod 2 (14 months) is an "experiments, model training and observation" phase and period 3 (20 monts) is a "prototyping, analysis and dataset creation" phase.

During period 1, work was performed about differents aspects of the project:
- We worked in collaboration with all the partners on experiment design and scenarios in order to decide on focus scenarios, to determine the important factors experiments will study and to design and plan laboratory and field experiments. A first set of pre-experiments and experiments were carried out in order to better plan the small and large group experiments of the second period which will allow the effective creation of datasets.
- We have initiated our work on numerical models of physical interactions with both a knowledge-driven approach, and a data driven approach.
- We discussed the appropriate approaches to map global crowd movements with local physical interactions.
- We have listed potential crowd observatories and we have made initial contacts in order to present them the objectives of the project and the possible collaboration in the field of crowd management technologies. These first contacts will allow the physical installation of the crowd observatories during the second period.
Several results and impacts are expected until the end of the project:
- Scientific contribution to a new generation of crowd simulators: new avenues for crowd research and transposable principles from the physical modelling of local interactions to other research fields (robotics, transport and sociology).
- Scientific contribution to the study of physical interactions: new datasets and models which have no equivalent yet, development of new methods for the acquisition of data and a better understanding of human behaviour to enlarge the horizon of Cognitive Sciences.
- Technological contributions: a prototype for computer assisted on-line management of mass events, a prototype for computer simulation of mass events and the concept of “Living crowd observatories” to demonstrate prototypes.
- Social Impact: increase the level of safety and comfort of mass events and high, accurately predict crowd movement and help to identify increased risk and potentially test management strategies.
- Economical Impact: better operational management, increased reliability and reduced costs, optimization of the quality of services offered by crowded public places and a new generation of more realistic crowd simulators.
- New market opportunity: put EU in a leadership position with regards to crowd management.