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How do we manage high populations in megacities?


Cities across the world are expanding, as well as the populations within them.  In 2017, the World Economic Forum focused on the issue, with more than half of the planet’s population city dwellers, with this set to rise by 2030.

The World Economic Forum in 2017 highlighted to world leaders the growing issue of cities. That is, that cities across the world are becoming incredibly densely populated — little over half of the world’s population make their homes within cities, and this is predicted to increase to two-thirds of the world’s population by 2030. In order to deal with this increase, urban planning needs to be put in place in order to reduce the risks upon such densely populated cities from events such as natural disasters and poverty.

Day-to-day living could, of course, be impacted by such planning. Consider this: in 2016, there were 512 cities around the world with at least 1 million citizens. Currently, one in five of us live in these cities. On top of this, it is expected that by 2030, an additional 150 cities will break the 1 million mark.

And that isn’t including the larger cities. Dubbed ‘megacities’, the 31 super-sized cities recorded in 2014 as having more than 10 million people living within them will rise to 41 by 2030. The density of these cities means that a small problem can quickly ripple through so many people and become a huge issue. Traffic flow can be managed, roads can have laws applied to them, but managing human beings is a whole different ball game. This is where computerised crowd simulation certainly shines, as it allows experts to gauge the most likely way people will choose to enter, move around, and leave a given building. This technology can be extended to predict the flow of people within entire districts, helping with designing and planning city layouts more efficiently.

The design process for this technology helped to address a number of knowledge gaps. Once such project that brought crowd simulation programme MassMotion into effect was the redevelopment of the New York Fulton Centre interchange. With six subway lines already in place that had been designed without much futureproofing, the use of pedestrian simulation software proved vital for its successful redevelopment. From here, the programme has flourished under academic guidance and use, and can now be applied to a variety of planning stages, such as for city planning.

Urban planning requirements include:

  • Streamlined model building, thanks to the ability to import entire BIM objects into the software.
  • Independent virtual pedestrians within the software that will react to situations as they develop.
  • Virtual pedestrians with pre-programmable agendas.

Technology will undoubtedly play a crucial role in providing accurate urban planning for such cities. With the ability to model huge volumes of people in a scenario, the use of crowd simulation will be vital in city planning for the coming years.

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