Simulating Dynamical Features of Escape Panic

Nature, Vol. 407, pp. 487-490, 2000

16 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2006

See all articles by Dirk Helbing

Dirk Helbing

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS)

Illes J. Farkas

Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Eotvos University - Budapest, Hungary

Tamas Vicsek

Eotvos University - Budapest, Hungary

Abstract

One of the most disastrous forms of collective human behaviour is the kind of crowd stampede induced by panic, often leading to fatalities as people are crushed or trampled. Sometimes this behaviour is triggered in life threatening situations such as fires in crowded buildings; at other times, stampedes can arise during the rush for seats or seemingly without cause. Although engineers are finding ways to alleviate the scale of such disasters, their frequency seems to be increasing with the number and size of mass events. But systematic studies of panic behaviour and quantitative theories capable of predicting such crowd dynamics are rare. Here we use a model of pedestrian behaviour to investigate the mechanisms of (and preconditions for) panic and jamming by uncoordinated motion in crowds. Our simulations suggest practical ways to prevent dangerous crowd pressures. Moreover, we find an optimal strategy for escape from a smoke filled room, involving a mixture of individualistic behaviour and collective 'herding' instinct.

Keywords: Escape reaction, Panic, Crowding, Emergencies, Computer simulations with continuous space and time, Free scientific software

JEL Classification: C63, D74, Z00

Suggested Citation

Helbing, Dirk and Farkas, Illes J. and Vicsek, Tamas, Simulating Dynamical Features of Escape Panic. Nature, Vol. 407, pp. 487-490, 2000, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=947685

Dirk Helbing (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS) ( email )

ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Clausiusstrasse 50
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.coss.ethz.ch

Illes J. Farkas

Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Eotvos University - Budapest, Hungary ( email )

Pazmany Peter setany 1A
Budapest, H1117
Hungary

HOME PAGE: http://hal.elte.hu/fij

Tamas Vicsek

Eotvos University - Budapest, Hungary ( email )

Pazmany Peter setany 1A
Budapest, -- H1117
Hungary

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,131
Abstract Views
5,229
rank
22,262
PlumX Metrics