Don’t Panic! Can We Help People Survive In Emergencies?

Keeping people as safe as possible during incidents such as fires, attacks or explosions involves changing behaviour as well as physical protection. The ways that people behave in emergencies can help or hinder survivability, particularly in crowded places where the potential for congestion and crush can be as dangerous as the original threat. Behavioural research, new developments in computer simulation technology and data are increasingly used to help predict these outcomes, identify the changes in behaviour and operations needed and improve safety. In this session, Dr Aoife Hunt will explore the ways we model behaviour and crowd dynamics in emergencies, revealing the surprising story behind our safety regulations and debunking myths about human behaviour in disasters.


Dr Aoife Hunt is a Market Leader at GHD and leading specialist in people movement and emergency planning. She has 14 years’ experience in simulating human behaviour and pedestrian dynamics and completed an award-winning PhD in evacuation modelling. Leading on high profile projects across sectors, Aoife advises on the movements of people and materials in buildings, hospitals, stadia and events, the public realm, and transport systems across the world. She leads national research projects to advance the safety and security of crowded places, specialising in human behaviour in emergencies and pedestrian movement through security overlays. Aoife is regularly consulted on national guidance documents such as the 6th Edition of the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide), SG02 Planning for Social Distancing at Sports Grounds, the Public Realm Design Guide, CIBSE Guide D, PAS 127, and is currently co-authoring the chapter on evacuation modelling in the SFPE Fire Engineering handbook. Aoife is co-chair of the Security Institute’s Special Interest Group: “Protecting People in Crowded Spaces” and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland. She delivers lectures at several academic institutions on crowd flow modelling, human behaviour in emergencies, and evacuation analysis, and is a former President of the British Science Association Mathematical Sciences Section.

Wednesday, 01 February 2023

11:00 - 11:45 GMT


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    Dr Aoife Hunt
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    Professor Michael Mainelli
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