Crowd control using Video Analytics vs. Personal GPS. Which is better for safety and security?


BBC’s Click program highlighted how the Police used personal GPS, by getting individual users’ permission, to map the density of the crowd to ensure safety and manage flow of people traffic to maintain safe levels.

Events come in many forms and guises. They range from protest marches to royal weddings and, therefore, the behaviour of the crowd or attendees will effect decision making on managing policing. There are many different ways to do this and there are underlying themes or security risks which are similar. For instance, violent attacks which are pre planned is a constant threat but handled by a more specialist agency. It is the volume and opportunistic crime and disturbances which are security concerns. The safety concerns are based on people traffic and diversions or keeping within set routes which are cordoned off for the excess people.

The decision making for the day will be either reactive or proactive. Proactive is more cautious but a safer option. Reactive decision making is dependent on the time it takes to get the message to the frontline personnel to make the changes. For the proactive steps, the data capture has to then process the information against historical information to the either alert upon predictions or report on the potential scenarios.

Then what is the best technology to do this? Is it, as the Police did in London, to get the attendees to put on the GPS and then track that data positioning? The alternative is to use CTV with video analytics. Taking aside any network of lack of cameras issues (which is very rare in London), which technology is better to provide the police with the best crowd management tools?

Bikal eyesoft and other Intelligent Video Analytics have features which object count, detect humans and you can set crowd parameters (loitering, size of crowd, motion status in potential bottleneck areas). The GPS shows density but crowds are affected by security concerns as well if a car or other vehicle is travelling in the restricted area then the GPS data will not show this. If an individual is wielding a weapon and there is dispersing of a crowd the again this detail is missed. GPS has for a long time been a use of technology which can perform tracking but in today’s world of detail and personalisation it is dated. CCTV provides a visual verification with analytics and each event the being treated individually. Data from previous events can be inputted into the video analytics to then forewarn on the scenarios. CCTV will also take into account weather changes, for when dealing remotely there is a lack of detail with GPS.

Image: Michal Durinik /


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