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Project outline

The quality of life in European metropolitan areas is under pressure. A steady increase of the population in combination with the rapid expansion of city tourism frequently causes crowd-related issues in European cities. Inhabitants of many European metropolitan cities sigh under the burden of tourism, are annoyed with the daily hassle to navigate through crowded transfer hubs and city streets and experience the physical risks that crowds can pose at mass events, for instance during national celebrations, such as Kingsday, Quatorze Juillet and labour day.

In recent years, a few European universities, research institutes and municipalities, among which Delft University of Technology and the municipalities of Amsterdam, Milan & Barcelona, have developed techniques to actively monitor crowd movements by means of Wi-Fi, automated counting systems, LoRa devices, social data and GPS trackers, and pro-actively manage crowded spaces using real-time decision support systems. These ad hoc and specialist pilots have shown that the liveability of the inner cities can be improved substantially by means of pro-active crowd management. Active crowd management supported by a state-of-the-art crowd management decision-support system (CM-DSS), combining the best-practices of the preliminary specialized (relatively) small-scale pilots and taking advantage of the latest crowd sensor, big data, machine learning techniques and crowd dynamics theory, improves the throughput of crowded spaces, better travel time reliability and enhances the perceived level of service and the safety of crowded pedestrian spaces. At the same time, better and reliable accessibility of transfer hubs substantially increases the attractiveness of sustainable multi-modal travel. Yet, the piloted state-of-the-art CM-DSSs are currently not ready for large scale deployment as the software is highly specialized for particular crowded spaces, and catered for specific situations.

Prepare to launch pro-active crowd management

CityFlows will make the necessary steps to prepare a generic CM-DSS for market launch in three steps. First, CityFlows will further the software backbone (e.g. servers, databases and database search & store algorithms), at the same time allowing to connect the latest pedestrian sensing techniques to the CM-DSS. Moreover, the CM-DSS’s customization possibilities of the CM-DSS are extended to cater for the needs of individual stakeholders and distinct contexts (i.e. general inner-city travel, tourism, transfer hub, mass events). These actions ensure that the CityFlows CM-DSS becomes a reliable multi-purpose plug-and-play software package that can cope with various types of urban pedestrian spaces. Second, CityFlows will demonstrate and assess the impact of this system can have on the liveability of cities using four living labs in three European countries and four different contexts. Insight considering the impact of a CM-DSS on the liveability (i.e. accessibility, safety, nuisance related to tourism) of cities will allow other cities worldwide to identify the potential of this system for their crowded spaces. More importantly, success stories of early adaptors are essential to ensure that the current -fairly conservative- crowd management practice adopts these new innovations featuring crowd monitoring and proactive management. Third, CityFlows will create a professionally trained customer base for the CM-DSS, as the target customers, consisting of urban planners, tourism experts, station operators and security organisations, such as police and event personnel, acquire hands-on experience with innovative CM-DSS when working in the living lab, or visiting one of the educational workshops featuring innovative crowd management systems hosted by the living labs.

Overview of the CityFlows CM-DSS (click to zoom)

Outcomes of CityFlows

The main outcomes of CityFlows are:

  1. A boost in quality and accessibility of urban space (i.e. level of service, throughput and/or safety) of the four European living labs
  2. a license-based crowd management decision-support system (software package),
  3. a design strategy for frameworks of action for crowd proactive crowd management,
  4. an impact assessment of the deployment of the CityFlows CM-DSS for various types of crowded places across Europe
  5. an education package considering innovative crowd management decision-support systems.

The five outcomes of CityFlows will be disseminated through a set of international workshops for public and private stakeholders and academics at the sites of the living labs during the runtime of the demonstrator projects and the generation of an educational package on pro-active crowd management of crowded spaces. Interested in the workshops or the educational package? Just keep an eye on the website for the latest information regarding both.