Success Story with

Simulation of pedestrian flows as a continuum at major events and high passenger traffic

High passenger density can be simulated time efficiently by means of continuum simulation methods. Critical spots as well as bottlenecks are identified quickly.

SECTOR/INDUSTRY: Crowd Management
MANDATE/ GOAL: Analysing safety related aspects of sites
ADDED VALUE: Efficient simulation of high crowd densities

Starting position

Dramatic incidents at major events have made it clear to the wider public that studies concerning the diffusion of high pedestrian volume hot spots are urgently needed. Customer inquiries and numerous publications prove the interest of transport specialists.

Because the purely statistical balancing cannot depict build-up and dissipation of critical load peaks, the analysis of the time sequences in highly frequented pedestrian zones (railway stations, airports, shopping centres, sports stadium, amusement parks and cultural sites and venues of major events etc.) is gaining considerable significance with the help of dynamic simulations.

Simulation of the evacuation of General Guisan Quai and Bürkliplatz at the Züri Fäscht (festival in Zürich): The simulation emulates a realistic post-firework scenario. During the fireworks, many visitors gather at the lake. Afterwards, they all want to leave at the same time.


Tools for microscopic simulations are state-of-the-art. They are designed to follow the pedestrians individually in discreet time steps. Only the interpretation of the data gathered produces a macroscopic perspective of the traffic situation. This approach is unsuitable for high crowd density, as the available processing power cannot depict the number of pedestrians in the traffic area. The transition to a macroscopic idealized perspective of the dynamics of traffic by way of people densities and velocity fields (continuum approach) offers a viable solution to this problem.

The result

ASE has pursued a macroscopic approach and developed a simulation tool for a research project. The use of simulation allowed complex situations featuring high visitor numbers to be examined and assessed efficiently.  (see figure below.)