In Mecca, millions of Muslims engage in the “Hajj” pilgrimage every year, tightly packing in a small space in an avid pursuit of spirituality and forgiveness. The problem is, in the pursuit of peace and tranquility, mob mentality can often take hold and stampedes happen. This isn’t exclusive to Hajj: over a 100 people died in a stampede at a recent Hindus festival. In the spirit of celebrating culture and tradition, large crowds can become a disaster.
Enter geeky analytics.
Authorities at Hajj are now making use of crowd analytics software that tracks crowds in real times to detect problems, turmoil and potential for overcrowding. The co-founder of this proprietary software developed it as a part of his PhD research. Mecca has been running the software since 2007.
“Crowds can be dangerous places. Whether triggered by factions within the crowd, by natural disasters or misguided crowd managers, there is a long history of crushes, stampedes and failed evacuations,” said Fiona Strens who co-founded CrowdVision, the firm behind the software.