Crowd Disasters and Simulation of Panic Situations

  • Dirk Helbing
  • Illés J. Farkas
  • Tamás Vicsek


One of the most tragic collective behaviors is a panic stampede [11.1–11.9], as it often leads to the death of people who are either crushed or trampled down by others. While this behavior is comprehensible in life-threatening situations like fires in crowded buildings [11.10, 11.11], it is hardly understood in cases of a rush for good seats at a pop concert [11.12], or without any obvious reasons. Unfortunately, the frequency of such disasters is increasing [11.12], as growing population densities combined with easier transportation lead to greater mass events like pop concerts, sporting events, and demonstrations. Nevertheless, systematic studies of panics [11.8] are rare [11.5, 11.10, 11.12]. Moreover, there is a scarcity of quantitative theories capable of predicting the dynamics of human crowds [11.13–11.15]. Here we show that simulations of pedestrian behavior can give valuable insights into the mechanisms and preconditions of panic, jamming, and the observed ‘faster-is-slower effect’. We also provide clues to practical ways of minimizing the related tragedies. Furthermore, we identify an optimal strategy for collective problem solving in crisis situations, corresponding to a suitable mixture of individuahstic and herding behavior.


Herding Behavior Pedestrian Flow Fire Front Slide Friction Force Lane Formation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Helbing
  • Illés J. Farkas
  • Tamás Vicsek

There are no affiliations available

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