Crowd Control Management in the Twente Region

Crowd Control Management in the Twente Region
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The combined use of data can help companies achieve more information and make better business decisions, but big data will have also a major impact on they way public services like the police, health organizations or the fire brigade operate. In The Netherlands, a remarkable, and for The Netherlands unique, initiative took place in December 2012.

During the week before Christmas, a Dutch radio station called 3FM organizes Serious Request, an annual benefit project that collects money for charity. For nine years this event is organized now and every year it is in a different location. In 2012 the event took place in Enschede, in the Twente region.  This year the Police in Twente and the Safety Region Twente developed a Crowd Control Management tool to ensure the safety among all the visitors. In 6 days, around 500.000 visitors came to the centre of Enschede and the objective was to organize a pleasant party for everyone, without any incidents. Thanks to the Crowd Control Management, they succeeded in this objective as no incidents occurred.

Three Monitoring Tools

They used three different tools to monitor what was going on in real-time in the centre of Enschede:

Twitcident: Developed in conjunction with the Delft University of Technology, Twitcident is a tool that can sift through massive amounts of local tweets to find information about emergencies happening. The tool detects, filters and analyses the tweets during massive public events and presents it in a structured way so first emergency responders can use it. Twitcident provided fast and reliable information about the real-time situation in the centre of Enschede, the sentiment among the public as well the need for information in the crowd. The following video provides an insight how Twitcident works:

During ’Serious Request’ Twitcident worked with a list of 533 search terms that resulted in 113.000 different combinations that were monitored by the system. In total around 1.1 billion tweets were scanned. This resulted in 12.000 tweets that were marked suspicious and those tweets were checked manually in the Crowd Control Room.

UrbanShield System: This system provides a real-time situational awareness overview of a complete area within a city. This system is based on a Geographical Information System and uses GPS to show the real-time location of all first responders in an area. All police officers, fire department, city security and private security guards who are part of the system are shown on a map. Based upon a situation that is noticed via the cameras on the street or via Twitcident the closest first responder can be alerted and he or she can take immediate action.

Blue Mark: a tool that can count the crowd. During large public events it is necessary to know the amount of people in a certain location to ensure that not too many people arrive and stay at a square within the city. Blue Mark makes it possible, using sensors, to monitor the amount of people and how they move through town based on their smartphone. Each smartphone broadcasts a digital signature on a regular basis and using Bluetooth or Wifi this can be counted. No private information such as account ID or phone ID was collected, so the privacy was protected.

Crowd Control Room

These three tools where used to achieve a multi-angle, real-time, high-over picture of the situation in Enschede around “Het Glazen Huis” and on the different city squares. From the Crowd Control Room, located in the city hall, they managed the situation and when necessary they came into action: Wilma van Raalte, Program Manager of the Safety Region Twente, explains: “At a certain moment messages came in of pickpockets being active at a certain location. They were immediately traced with the cameras and seen in action. The UrbanSheild sytem found the closest police officers who could take action and within no-time the criminal was arrested and taken out of the crowd without anyone noticing it.” That shows the power of combining different tools during such events.

During this event, the tools were not automatically integrated and there was no use of public data as well. It was used as a pilot for a larger project the Twente region is working on called “Tec4se”. Tec4se will integrate traffic management, crowd management, social media, object information and public data in order to create a ‘Common Operational Picture’; a single, identical real-time display of relevant (operational) information during an event. This is Big Data used at its best and the Twente Region aims to be live with Tec4se in 2015.

Image Credit: eldar+nurkovic/Shutterstock
Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr. Mark van Rijmenam is a strategic futurist known as The Digital Speaker. He stands at the forefront of the digital age and lives and breathes cutting-edge technologies to inspire Fortune 500 companies and governments worldwide. As an optimistic dystopian, he has a deep understanding of AI, blockchain, the metaverse, and other emerging technologies, and he blends academic rigour with technological innovation.

His pioneering efforts include the world’s first TEDx Talk in VR in 2020. In 2023, he further pushed boundaries when he delivered a TEDx talk in Athens with his digital twin , delving into the complex interplay of AI and our perception of reality. In 2024, he launched a digital twin of himself offering interactive, on-demand conversations via text, audio or video in 29 languages, thereby bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds – another world’s first.

As a distinguished 5-time author and corporate educator, Dr Van Rijmenam is celebrated for his candid, independent, and balanced insights. He is also the founder of Futurwise , which focuses on elevating global digital awareness for a responsible and thriving digital future.


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