Prof Kholshevnikov V.V., Dr Samoshin D.A., Dr Isaevich I.I.

Academy of State Fire Service, EMERCOM of Russia,

Moscow, 2009.-191 pages


Recommended by

united education committee of architectural universities of Russian Federation for students studying under specialty 27010 Industrial and civil engineering, direction 270100 Construction.


Methods of flow observations, their advantages and disadvantages, valid area of their application are reviewed. For the first time methods of raw data analysis and statistical treatment are systematized. Examples of observations and experiments on sport stands, on pedestrian routes of underground traffic system and modern means of human behaviour in fire research are discussed,

Given book supposed to be useful for specialists dealing with designing of communication (evacuation) paths and exits, for experts dealing with evacuation management, for pedestrian flow researchers, and also for students of fire and architectonic institutions, studying under specialty 280100 Life Safety (direction 280104 Fire Safety) and specialty 270100 Construction (direction 270102 Industrial and civil engineering).

Interesting facts:

  • For the first time particular methods of pedestrian flow observations are analyzed and valid area or their application is given;
  • An examples of visual methods applied in various buildings, video technique used in pedestrian flow study and complex of methods for human behaviour in fire research are discussed;
  • 108 bibliographic references (including 13 thesis) were used;
  • 80 figures and 36 tables in the book;







1.1 Elementary human flow

1.2 Random structure of human flow    


2.1 Visual method  

2.2 Photography and filming

2.3 Valid field of application


3.1 Aims of statistical research

3.2 Types of statistical observations

3.3 Systematization of empirical data


4.1 Human flows research on sport stands using photo method

4.1.1 Research description          

4.1.2 Primary treatment of observations data   

4.1.3 Systematization of observations data      

4.1.4 Reaggregation of observations data        

4.1.5 Some comments on observations

4.2. Human flows research on pedestrian routes in underground traffic system

4.2.1 Need for research

4.2.2 Objects of observations      

4.2.3 Results of pedestrian movement research         

4.2.4 Development relation between parameters of pedestrian flows        

4.2.5 Pedestrian movement on station platform

4.2.6 Pedestrian movement on escalators and through ticket machines Pedestrian movement on escalators Pedestrian movement through ticket machines        

4.2.7 Results of pedestrian study

4.3 Study on evacuation management in large retail stores

4.3.1 Need for research

4.3.2 Methods of data collection Video observations for unannounced evacuations Computer video presentation    

4.3.3 Systematization, grouping and data analysis Pre-movement time   First actions of staff in case of fire Free travel speed Staff impact on customers evacuation Decision making time Actions in case of fire Staff training evaluation 

4.3.4 Study general conclusions            




Appendix. Empirical data approximation by Pearson curves of I-VII types.  

List of references




Chapter 1. The structure and characteristics of the human flow

 One of the first systematic studies of human flows performed under the guidance of professor Belyayev in 1938 has been reviewed. The main criterion for the safety of evacuation was defined the time required for its completion. In this study, three main characteristics of the human flow were identified for the first time: density, speed and flow capacity per minute, and for the first time the existence of the relationship between them was pointed out.

 In further studies, the distribution of people in the flow (both along and across) was found to be always of uneven and often of random nature. The distance between moving people is constantly changing, local crowding occurs, scatters and emerges again. These changes are unstable over time. Observations show that the human flow is usually stretched and cigar-like. Moreover, the front and closing sections consist of a small number of people moving at a greater or lesser speed than the vast majority of people in the flow.

 Besides, the human flow kinetics features reflect in the fact that in an emergency and often in the normal flow the front part goes forward at a greater speed, and its length and number of people increase, while those of the closing part, on the contrary, decrease. It is a so-called re-flow due to its front part spreading, so for emergency conditions the flow spreading, and consequently its gradual change in density, must be taken into account.

 Chapter 2. Methods of field studies of people moving in the flow

 Widely used methods of fixing human flow parameters have been reviewed: the visual method, the filming and photography method, and the video observation method.

 The principle of the visual survey method is as follows. During the flow movement the observer chooses a noticeable (for height or clothing) person. At the moment when the chosen person reaches the test area boundaries, the observer switches on the timer and starts counting the number of people going past him. Counting continues until the person reaches the end of the marked test area the location of the observer. At this point, the timer is turned off, and counting of the flow participants passing by the observer stops. The measurement procedure is over. Then the observer chooses another noticeable person and the next measurement procedure starts. As a result of each procedure, the researchers obtain the values of the width, length, number of people having passed the observer in a fixed period of time, which allows to calculate the corresponding measured values of flow density and speed of its movement. The visual method research was carried out, for example, by A.I. Milinisky in 19461950. A total of 8055 measurements of human flow parameters have been  performed, obtained with the help of 164 observers. Despite the simplicity in its organization, of such research method demonstrated the following weaknesses:

- The dependence of the measurement accuracy on qualification and personal characteristics of the observer;

- The need for involvement of a large number of observers;

- The difficulty of determining the exact number of people because of their constant motion;

- Impossible to capture and analyze the flow kinematics.

 To conduct field observations with the help of photography, filming or telephotography (video surveillance), the desired section of communication path is selected and the drawing showing all necessary dimensions of its plan is made. Besides, this plan shows the position of all the specific elements and points of the section that can be used as reference points in the picture. It is recommended to install a film, photographic or television camera so that the optical axis of the device is vertical to the plane of the section to be captured (the object plane). Then a geometrically undistorted, reduced to a certain scale section plan is obtained. For monitoring purposes a grid is applied on the section floor or at the human height (the most suitable size is 1 × 1 m).

 The main problem occurs when installing the vertical optical axis of the imaging equipment angularly, i.e. an inclined optical axis (preferably in the range of 60 to 120). In this case, it is very important to monitor the resulting changes in the geometry of the images. In these cases, when capturing at the height of 4 to 6 m an, an error in determining the human flow parameters can range from 15 to 30%.

Moreover, a distinction should be made between the speed of a person moving along their individual trajectory and the speed of their motion in the flow, because the trajectory of the movement does not always coincide with the direction of people moving in the flow and of the flow itself.

 The cases of using the methods to address various research tasks on the basis of their different informational capabilities have been analyzed.

 Chapter 3. Initial processing of field observations statistical data

 The tasks of statistical study, the types of statistical observations and principles of empirical evidence classification have been reviewed.

 The main attention is paid to the principles of establishing an entitative, sustainable, and causal relation between phenomena. This includes not only identification of the relation between the observed phenomenon properties, but also defining the coupling mechanism between them. Clarification of these mechanisms is based on understanding of what is the cause and nature of the observed relation phenomenon and formation of its type, on understanding what has caused the exact form of its development. It is emphasized that a mathematical formula will get real value only when it is adequate to the internal relations between the phenomena or at least reflects the relationship with a sufficient degree of approximation. Therefore, when selecting a dependence function, the researcher must discern the internal relationships that can determine the correlation, exactly in this form. Examples of the human flow theory have been given.

 The methods of the initial processing of statistical data, as well as the principles of their grouping, have been reviewed. The optimal types of statistical tables for human flows data of field observations have been presented.  The examples of earlier studies have been shown.

 Chapter 4. Examples of field observations

 This chapter describes in detail the methodology of field observation, systematization and processing of the data, as well as conclusions based on the research results.

 The study of human flows at sporting and entertainment facilities conducted in 19651966, carried out with the help of the photographic survey method (a total of 1739 measurements of human flow parameters), investigated the influence of slope stands on the speed and intensity of the movement, the approximation method of calculation was improved, algorithms for computers were developed.

 Initial processing, classification and regrouping of field observation results have been performed. The findings of the work have been analyzed. For example, it has been found that upward evacuation in the area of high human density flows is significantly more effective than the downward.

 The study of human flows in subway pedestrian facilities conducted in 19881990 with the help of video capturing tools has been described. The objectives of the study were to clarify the dependence of the flow speed on its density in the rush hour and at other times, the safe flow density on the platforms, the intensity of people getting off the cars, the density of human flows entering the hall of unlimited width, the turnstiles capacity, as well as the impact of the escalator speed on the flow parameters. A total of 5957 measurements have been performed. The research methodology, data processing stages and conclusions have been presented.

 In the study of evacuating people from large retail stores, a set of techniques was used to determine the factors that determine the effectiveness of the evacuation, the beginning of the evacuation, the human flow parameters, as well as the actions of people after alarm system actuation, fire or smoke detection.

 The analysis of unannounced evacuations video records helped identify two distinctive groups of people: the customers and the staff. The study of actions of these groups representatives showed that the evacuation process depends on the actions of the staff. The behavior of the staff in case of fire was studied with a new method of collecting data interviewing with computer video presentation that for the first time allowed to investigate the behavior of people in situations effecting the process of evacuation, for example, when a fire was detected.

 Systematization, grouping and analysis of the results identified have allowed to specify actions in different scenarios of fire and explore the constellation of factors determining the human behavior in case of fire. Using a computer video has also allowed to critically evaluate the fire training. For example, it was found that only 37.2% of the staff follow the steps prescribed in fire emergency instructions.

 Chapter 5. New methods of experimental research of some aspects of human behavior during evacuation

 New approaches to statistical data collection based on the characteristics of human flows and behavior patterns during evacuation have been reviewed: thermal cameras, usage, Ubisense RTLS technology for detection of human in real time anywhere in the building, as well as eye-tracking cameras.


More information: Dr Dmitry Samoshin,  Academy of State Fire Service of Russia, +7 916 299 9924

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