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7 September 2020: UdeC mathematicians develop pedestrian flow models
  • The study results have a high potential for applicability in mass evacuation processes in emergencies. 

The movement of large volumes of people is something that has been studied for years and from various disciplines. Mathematics is certainly no exception and different models have emerged in this regard. The postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Research in Mathematical EngineeringCI²MA, of the Universidad de ConcepciónDaniel Inzunza, together with collaborators from other national and foreign universities, has approached this scientific problem, obtaining novel conclusions. 

According to the researcher, the problem was proposed by his colleague from the U. del Bío-Bío Luis Miguel Villada, and the Subdirector of CI²MA Raimund Bürger and Paola Goatin, from INRIA Sophia-Antipolis, France, have also collaborated in the studies carried out. “Pedestrian movement studies are always based on first-order numerical schemes, wich is, they require a great deal of computational work to achieve accurate results. What we achieve is that, using less computational resources, we reached almost the same precision as with slower methods”. 

The equations used in this work can be applied to study different types of mass movements, which can be pedestrians, but also vehicles in traffic problems, or flocks of birds, for example. “The application of numerical analysis methods to this type of problem is quite old, but we have managed to develop an alternative, high-order method, and among the problems we dealt with, as an example, was the study of how an important number of people flows through an exit or, in other words, exits through a given door”. 

 “Although, the first impression we have is that, if we put obstacles in the flow of people, that will delay their departure, through experimentation we have realized that, if we strategically arrange these obstacles, the effect is the opposite, in other words, the exit time is optimized”, Inzunza details, about a problem that, for example, in the case of the evacuation of large volumes of people, such as in a stadium full of assistants, in an emergency, can have important implications. 

The researcher explains that “this is an open scientific problem, since there are still no finished studies on how, where, at what distances, etc., obstacles must be placed to optimize the outflow of people, and positively influence evacuation times”. 

The group of scientists has sent an article for publication in a specialized journal in the area, and they have begun to define a new line of related research, which allows “to give a stronger support to the theory, using the same previous equations”, Inzunza details. 

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