World’s first automated mass crowd count done

Researchers have conducted the world’s first automated mass crowd count with the help of a software that can speedily scan aerial photographs of the crowd.

Counting large-scale crowd has been a long, tedious process involving people examining aerial photographs one at a time. Each photograph had to be divided into sections and the examiners counted the number of heads per inch.

Now, the University of Central Florida (UCF) software promises to automate the process and cut down the time dramatically, from up to a week to 30 minutes, giving critical information to organisers while planning for events or responding to emergencies.

UCF’s test run was conducted in September when thousands of demonstrators along a 3.2 mile stretch of Barcelona were calling for independence of the Catalonia province from Spain.

Using the new software, 67 aerial images of different sections were analysed.

The programme came up with a total count for each of the images within 30 minutes. The images and calculations were then sent to Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, where statistics professor Albert Satorra led a team reviewing the data.

Using UCF results for the images, they concluded the count for the entire crowd at about 530,000.