BLOG: 4 questions for Professor Keith Still

CrowdScan is proud to have Professor Keith Still in the team as an independent board member. We asked 4 questions at this reputed expert of crowd management.

    5 questions for Keith Still

    How did you become an independent board member of CrowdScan?

    Keith Still: "I was a jury member for the PhD thesis that led to CrowdScan and instantly recognised this as a solution to identifying crowd density in realtime, and across the range of density (low to high), that actually worked."

    Why do you believe in CrowdScan's technology?

    Keith Still: "I’ve been involved with a wide range of technology, over the last few decades, all claiming to "solve the problem" of realtime crowd density information.

    None of the previous solutions were either accurate, or affordable. During my time in Saudi Arabia, as special advisor to various Hajj projects, I was asked to evaluate several systems. They were expensive, and all had problems of identifying high density crowds.

    Prior to focussing on crowd safety, I used to design analogue electronics (Electron Microscopes and Digital image processing) so for me the technology is both familiar as are the applications. I think that understanding how and why it works, specifically how and why it will be useful for crowd safety, gives me a lot of confidence for this approach to the problems of crowd risk analysis."

    In a nutshell, what are the most important things to prepare for a crowded event?

    Keith Still: "Understanding the risks, managing and mitigating those risks are essential planning elements (and my specific focus). Although planning is essential, realtime monitoring is essential to understand the dynamics of crowd risks. Take major events, like the Olympics, we can anticipate potential problems, but we also need to monitor when crowd density starts to build up. You only need to look at the history of crowd disasters to understand that the field of crowd science still has a long journey ahead.

    One thing I know for sure, is that reliable crowd monitoring is the right step, in the right direction for crowd risk analysis and crowd safety management."

    In which way can sensor technology complement crowd simulations/models?

    Keith Still: "Simulations are fraught with assumptions, some of which simply cannot be known before the crowd enters the space. A lot depends on other factors like the crowds experience on the transport system, their mood, how the signage, management and design elements affect their behaviour, ...

    Crowd congestion can build up quickly. To simulate, understand and evaluate all possible options is both complex and expensive. Usually realtime density analysis is kept in the realm of the computer programmer.

    The CrowdScan system makes the information available to the control room. Putting the technology to real use, in realtime, makes the decision making much easier."

      About Keith Still

      Keith Still has consulted on some of the world’s largest, and most challenging crowd safety projects (check the project list). He developed and teaches a wide range of crowd dynamics, crowd science, crowd planning, crowd safety and crowd risk analysis short courses for event organisers, police, first responders, emergency planners, city authorities, building control officers, licensing officers, architects, event managers, security companies, venue operators and consulting engineers (check the course list).

      More information: website Keith Still