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Inovative eye in the sky monitors crowds


Inovative eye in the sky monitors crowds

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About six million people are expected to attend this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. With that many gathered in one place, the possibility of disaster is very real.

Even discounting terrorist action, accidents can happen. So scientists from the German Aerospace Centre are testing a new monitoring and alert system.

Three high-resolution cameras take two aerial images per second. The system then analyses them and produces data about traffic or crowd sizes at large gatherings such as the Oktoberfest. This helps emergency services predict problems.

Peter Reinartz, the head engineer at the German Aerospace Centre, said: “With these pictures you can analyse large parts of cities very quickly so that you know where there are traffic jams, what is happening and whether a road is no longer accessible, has a bridge collapsed, etc. It’s much more than just crowd analysis.”

The system was used to monitor flooding around the Oder river last spring. It also monitored the U2 concert in Munich and a Champions League game. It can help estimate crowd-density more accurately and anticipate crowd movements.

But it cannot prevent tragedies like the stampede at the Duisburg Love Parade last July.

Peter Reinhatz explained: “We cannot prevent such catastrophes with this system. But we can quantify how many people are on the road and their density.”

This is a joint project with the Institute for Technology in Karlsruhe, and the system is still being tested.

The next step will be constructing a smaller prototype that could fit into helicopters or unmanned planes. But the system looks like being a fixture when it comes to crowd control.

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