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December 6, 2013

UK researchers’ new camera system spots unsafe overcrowding

Determines the density of crowds in real-time and indicate the timing and location of hazardous levels of overcrowding.

By CBR Staff Writer

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University have developed a new camera system which can detect dangerous overcrowding through the use of existing cameras to avoid injuries.

Developed by a research team lead by Dr Amin Al-Habaibeh of the NTU’s School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, the new smart camera system can even be operated in darkness.

Incorporating an infrared camera and a monochrome camera, the new system determines the density of crowds in real-time and indicate the timing and location of overcrowding.

Researchers anticipate the new device, which can also provide a fairly precise estimate of crowd numbers, would assist in saving lives by boosting crowd safety at huge gatherings.

Dr Al-Habaibeh was cited by the Telegraph as saying that large scale public events still present huge safety risks and there are several recent examples of incidents which have resulted in loss of life.

"It’s important that technology helps minimise those risks and, where possible, helps prevent any instances such as crushing," Al-Habaibeh said.

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"The project has many potential applications around the world including sport events and city festivals.

"This invention is a step forward as it will provide real time data during day or night, in fog or smoke, about how dense a crowd is in an open space.

"It will enable those in charge of safety to take swift action before any sort of incident occurs."

With the technology centring on the monochrome visual camera that detects outline of individuals in the crowd, the infrared camera would sense heat emitted from their bodies.

The artificial intelligence system regulates the side-effects of sunlight and of people in the centre appearing outsized to the camera compared to those in the background.

The system generates a sound when it detects a density of five persons or more per square metre, which is deemed to be extremely high and potentially dangerous.

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