Rail planners have become familiar with the use of crowd analysis software for master planning and development of major transport hubs around the world. Now they are also seeing how it adds value in ongoing operational management and maintenance of their networks.
Rail operating companies have been embracing the use of crowd analysis as a day-to-day operational management tool for keeping essential rail services running during planned maintenance and unexpected service disruptions. The combination of 3D visualisation, intelligent agents (simulated pedestrians) and super-fast analysis provided by Oasys MassMotion meets their need to react quickly to changing situations and to maintain tough reliability targets.
Crowd analysis is also enabling planners to plan for exceptional demands generated by sports and cultural events.
Platform or escalator closures or service delays inevitably disrupt passenger flow , but with Oasys MassMotion they can simulate the potential impact and see how best to avoid or mitigate congestion. it.
Specific relevance for the operational transport hub environment
Key factors leading to operators’ choice of BIM-compatible MassMotion included the software’s ability to deal with big crowds and its 3D capabilities. For day-to-day management of a network, the unique ability to import timetables (such as train/airport departure and arrival times) was particularly attractive, and will save operators countless man hours.
Users can either construct their model within MassMotion using built-in modelling tools, or import 3D models from a wide range of products including AutoCAD, MicroStation, Sketch-Up, Rhino and Revit. MassMotion’s gaming quality graphics then provide clear visualisation and communication of its analyses. Other solutions can only render 2D analysis in 3D graphic outputs, so they do not reveal the bottlenecks and dangers that emerge within a real-life multi-level building such as a modern rail station. MassMotion outputs offer uniquely clear and comprehensive information about crowd behaviour, usage patterns and occupant safety in a facility.
Speed of analysis is critical, especially when managing unexpected disruptions, enabling managers to act quickly to avoid dangerous overcrowding. Typically, MassMotion will deliver results in hours compared to days for other solutions
MassMotion is the only crowd analysis tool that can program individual personalities within its models. MassMotion agents can have unique attributes and agendas as they journey through the model environment.
The algorithm that enables smart agents in the model to choose routes is based on the perceived cost of all available routes. MassMotion’s intelligent virtual agents ‘think on their feet’, and react to current conditions and whatever changing circumstances or emergency situation is simulated in the model. So, operators can test different scenarios, safe in the knowledge that the behaviour of their virtual crowd will be as near to real life as possible. Other applications require that every route option is identified and coded, which makes them cumbersome for large transport networks with many route choices, or when operators need to respond to unexpected circumstances.
MassMotion product director Erin Morrow, said: “It has been fascinating to work so closely with transport operators across Asia and learn more about how they see crowd analysis adding value to the way railways will be managed in the long term. “
Oasys will be showcasing its latest technologies at Booth A06 at the 19th Annual Asia Pacific Rail conference and exhibition taking place from 21-22 March at HKCEC, Hong Kong. Admission to expo is free – Get your free expo pass here.