The Kumbh Mela Experiment (KME): Measuring and Understanding the dynamics of mankind's largest crowd - Experiences from Kumbh Mela 2016 in Ujjain

September 10 2019 11:00–12:00
4080 AIR Building
Ashish Verma
Ashish Verma
Associate Professor
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

The large religious events in India have always thrown un-imaginable challenges of managing super dense pedestrian movements within a limited area. Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river. It is considered to be largest peaceful gathering in the world with estimated 100 million people visiting during the Kumbh Mela in 2013 in Allahabad, India and an estimated 75 million people visiting the Kumbh Mela recently held in 2016 in Ujjain, India. The safe mobility of pedestrians and crowd management during these events has always been a matter of concern for organizers and government authorities. The problem is compounded due to absence of reliable and real-time data to track movement of pedestrians and pedestrian density in designated areas. With the aim to gain more fundamental understanding of pedestrian dynamics in mass gatherings and using that knowledge to make such events safer, a major international collaborative research project called Kumbh Mela Experiment (KME) has been recently undertaken. The Kumbh Mela Experiment is an ongoing Indo-Dutch collaborative research project funded jointly by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Govt. of India, and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), Netherlands. The Transportation Engineering (TE) Lab. at Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore is the lead partner of this project. The aim of the project is to use big data and Internet of Things (IOT) for understanding crowd dynamics in mass gatherings and develop crowd management solution particularly focusing on crowd risk. The data collection was done during the recently held Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, M.P., in 2016.
Dr. Ashish Verma is a Ph.D. from IIT Bombay and currently serving as Associate Professor of Transportation Engg. at Dept. of Civil Engg., Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation, and Urban Planning (CiSTUP), and Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems (RBCCPS) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India. His research interests are in; sustainable transportation planning and policy, public transport planning and management, modeling and optimization of sustainable transportation systems, non-motorized transport planning and policy etc. He has authored more than 100 research publications in the area of sustainable transportation and road safety. He has also co-authored a book on “Public Transport Planning and Management in Developing Countries”. He is Editor of ‘Transport Policy’ and Associate Editor of ‘Urban Rail Transit’. He is the Founding and Current President of Transportation Research Group of India (TRG). He is presently serving as Country Representative from India, and Steering Committee Member of World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTRS) based in University of Leeds, UK.