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Social Innovation

Go with the flow

Do you enjoy standing in a queue? We didn’t think so. Technology is helping to solve congestion in busy spaces using laser sensors to measure the movement of people

Nobody likes prolonged queues or uncomfortably cramped spaces, yet as cities become more congested, this is something we have to deal with every day.

Luckily, technology is helping to cut the queues with, to use the technical term, "simulation technologies for people flow analysis".

In practice, this means using laser sensors to map where people go and designing spaces to reduce crowding.

People flow analysis can be applied to big and small spaces. Commuters will be glad to hear that it’s particularly effective at reducing crowding on trains and stations during rush hours. In the future, entire cities could be analysed to help make them more comfortable and convenient places for people to live.

An example of this tech comes from an experiment done at the Hitachi Innovation Forum in Tokyo. Hitachi used laser sensors to measure the movement of people and the amount of time they spent looking at exhibits. The results revealed congestion in certain areas that prevented the smooth flow of people and a disparity of “pull power" of booths based on their location. The finding meant that the following year, after a redesign, crowding was reduced and no booths went unvisited. Using the data, digital signage also informed attendees when an area was busy and when it was likely to clear.