Concerts, street festivals, football matches – when tens of thousands of people meet at a major event, reliable safety concepts are essential for the organisers. Transport management is a critical part of this. In an interview with Daniel Muthmann and Jan Malik, experts at PTV Transport Consult in this field, we discussed how to develop smart mobility concepts and ensure event safety.
Compass: PTV Transport Consult is a sought-after business partner when it comes to creating traffic and safety concepts for events. What kind of support do you offer?
Jan Malik: We offer a broad range of services. This includes the planning and design of all transport modes for major events. An important aspect is the safe arrival and departure of visitors. For example, when there is a rock concert with more than 80,000 visitors travelling by car, bus or train to the venue, this will of course have a serious impact on the road network. We design event-related traffic management and parking concepts and determine the required public transport capacities. These approaches are then analysed in terms of performance levels. A key benefit of PTV Transport Consult is that we are experts in traffic engineering and at the same time have a lot of experience in event traffic management. In addition, we are able to carry out multimodal simulations of the measures we developed.
The issues vary between the events. For example, as part of a transport concept for a specific event in Dortmund, we analysed not only scenarios relating to Signal-Iduna-Park, where the BVB football matches take place, but also the adjacent exhibition centre Westfalenhalle. What is the impact on traffic flow, if events take place there in parallel or at different times and what measures can be taken to ensure safe transport to and from both venues? Our team helps find clear and convincing answers to questions like these.
Daniel Muthmann: A couple of years ago, we also had to deal with a special project here in Düsseldorf: At the One Direction boy band concert, visitors were mainly teenagers that were dropped off and picked up by their parents. In this particular case, we of course had to consider other aspects, such as where to create the drop-off and pick-up areas.
Compass: On the other hand, it’s all about pedestrian safety at the entire the event site.
Jan Malik: That’s right. Therefore, we have also specialised in the field of crowd and queuing management in order to make sure that there are no swelling crowds or long queues and confusion. Moreover, we create escape and evacuation concepts.
Compass: And what tools do you use for this?
Daniel Muthmann: The pedestrian simulation software PTV Viswalk is of fundamental importance for our work. It allows us to analyse visitor flows and optimise visitor channelling. We are talking here not just about the fastest possible evacuation in case of an emergency, but also the ‘normal’ incoming and outgoing visitor flows – with separate navigation of supporters during the football match, for example.
Compass: What are the benefits of virtual simulation?
Jan Malik: Wherever a lot of people come together, the situation might quickly become confusing. Intuition is usually not sufficient as a basis for decision-making. Software simulations help analyse different scenarios and identify problems and weak points very quickly, while taking the interaction between pedestrians and vehicles into account. The results then enable the organisers to develop suitable optimisation measures.
Daniel Muthmann: For example, football stadium operators are required to provide evidence that target evacuation times can be kept. Planning such evacuation scenarios is a complex task of high responsibility that can hardly be accomplished without the professional tools for pedestrian simulation. If a stadium is later used for concerts, where visitors occupy the lawn area, the result will be completely different walking paths than for the visitors of a football match, which will in turn result in different evacuation times. Simulations help us recognise which emergency exits are narrow or rarely used, so that we can then take appropriate measures to counteract these problems.
Jan Malik: Sometimes the devil is in the details. Moving a French fries or a hot dog stand by a few metres can already have an impact on a backlog of pedestrians during an evacuation.
Daniel Muthmann: By the way, you can even simulate different age groups of pedestrians. At an André Rieu concert, the walking speeds of visitors are different than at a teen band concert. The animations created in PTV Vissim can be used to illustrate the evacuation process for the respective organiser or the authorities. With the help of more extensive models, the evacuation process can also be visualized for visitors.
Compass: What other factors play a role when it comes to developing a safety concept?
Jan Malik: On the one hand, the experience of the organiser and the operator of course play a decisive role. In many cases, we also work jointly with event consultants and liaise with other agencies such as the police or fire brigade. In addition, PTV Transport Consult has access to immense practical knowledge gained in research projects in this field, such as during the collaborative project BaSiGo – building blocks for safety at major events initiated after the Love Parade accident in Germany, in 2010.
Compass: Do you think that event safety has become even more important after the Love Parade accident?
Daniel Muthmann: Yes, definitely. The topic has moved more into focus and organisers today have become more sensitized to investing in the development of safety concepts prior to events. However, the best analysis and planning can only be effective if the resulting measures and recommendations for action are actually implemented.