This interview is used for an article in Pan Stadia & Arena Magazine:

How is crowd simulation software useful when managing safety at a football stadium?

The safety and wellbeing of all attendees at football- or other stadium events is paramount. FIFA, UEFA and the national FA’s, through their regulations, demand many guarantees and provisions of stadiums and clubs in the area of safety & security, especially within the area of the so-called “safe capacity”.

From the perspective of stadium ownership and management, the focus on liability following on all stadium operations is even more important. Safety nowadays is an USP that stadiums, arenas and events want to be positively identified with. If visitors feel comfortable and safe, they will be inclined to stay a little longer, to make more use of facilities and amenities and they will be more willing to visit the stadium again in the near future. This means that the realization of a safe environment, a safe capacity and a well considered safety & hospitality concept containing smooth crowd flows, in short term improves safety and the positive experience, and in the long-term increases revenue opportunities.

The stadium management, being responsible for all visitors and employees, should always do their utmost best to ensure safety and wellbeing within the premises. Simulation software enables the responsible management to fulfill their obligation in this regard. The simulation tool analyses all crowd flows that runs in- and around the stadium, combines it with all constructive building data and offers a unique insight and more understanding in all possibilities and limitations regarding evacuation, safety and (commercial) operations. The tool also allows the stadium management to create a preview of the possible effects of redecoration or reconstructing plans. Within this analysis for instance the optimization of crowd flows towards commercial positions can be investigated and determined.

So the question must truly be answered by “Yes”, Crowd simulation is very useful for managing a football stadium. Both for contingency planning, safety & security (responsibility and liability) and all logistic and customer-related processes (hospitality and positive image). At the same time it is also essential in fulfilling liability and responsibilities!

In your experience, is crowd simulation software a practical day-to-day tool or is it a strategic planning tool?

Crowd simulation software is both suitable for strategic planning and day-to-day operations: During the design phase of stadiums and arenas a lot of important strategic, operational and commercial issues have to be considered. In every phase of design and planning the simulation tool can be used to analyze the practical feasibility of plans. How much time do we need to evacuate the stadium? How many emergency exits, toilets, lockers and staff do I need? What positions for catering are most suitable to maximize commercial revenues? By modelling and analyzing all crowd flows and evacuation scenarios during the design phase it is possible to answer i.a. on strategic issues regarding:

  • The (financial) feasibility of construction plans in relation to all FIFA-, UEFA- and local demands and regulations regarding safety and security.
  • The feasibility of the intended capacity
  • All possible evacuation scenarios, including elements such as optimal crowd flows, bottlenecks and (safety) risks, different alternative (emergency) scenarios, partial evacuations and in- and egress of visitors, also in relation to the immediate vicinity
  • Safety plans and the number of security staff needed
  • The commercial attractiveness of a location

Perhaps all these issues are obvious, but simulation software certainly isn’t a designer’s tool only! The simulation tool above all offers a unique insight in the day-to-day operation, helps to evaluate and validate operational processes and to forecast the possible effects of adjustments towards licensing authorities, stadium management and other stakeholders. For instance: at the Philips Stadium, home of PSV Eindhoven, the simulation tool analysis led to a tactical adjustments of contingency plans of the main building, resulting in a shortening of evacuation with, at least, 3 minutes; a massive improvement! The security officer frequently carries out different simulation scenarios to improve various processes and to train security staff accordingly.

The special advantage is that the outcome of analysis come both as Excel output as 2D and 3D video visualization. In every simulation project we noticed that this visualization helps all stakeholders to create a better idea of upcoming events or building adjustments; for instance when the stadium is to be used as a concert venue. At the same time the stadium management can use the tool to identify revenue opportunities in these new plans through an ameliorated accessibility.

The simulation tool can also:

  • Support the training of security staff
  • Increase the understanding of emergency routes and the difficulties of the stadium vicinity among all relevant services and officials (police, fire brigade, medical services)
  • Enrich the stakeholders decision-making processes on various subjects; for instance redecoration plans
  • Recurrently evaluate the efficiency of operational processes
  • Identify the commercial attractiveness of commercial spots by analyzing the outcome of crowd flow measurements

If the stadium is already in operation, new and existing conditions will regularly have to be reconsidered because every event or activity in the stadium has its own organization, set-up and therefore guidelines for safety and capacity. A football match has different needs than a concert. At all times, you want visitors to feel welcome, safe and satisfied. While speaking in this context of a stadium environment, of course proper analysis and planning is also important for other locations where many people assemble.

What’s your job title and what services does your company provide and to whom?

We are Frank Wijnveld and Jan van Duijn. We own the company named CrowdProfessionals. We are located in Utrecht, the Netherlands. For 6 years Frank Wijnveld was the security and operations manager of PSV Eindhoven. After that he served as director of the Philips Stadium for 4 years. In these 10 years he gained a lot of experience and network in the sports and events business. Highlights in these 10 years are a.o. 5 championships with PSV Eindhoven, organizing the 2006 UEFA Cup Final Eindhoven and numerous stadium concerts and events. For many years Jan van Duijn was CFO of several international listed companies. In addition, he served as Managing Director in the Healthcare sector and is an entrepreneur. In recent years, he gained a lot of management experience in complex organizations and built a network in the financial sector. His experience, knowledge and network now are available to our clients.

CrowdProfessionals delivers services to, in general, two markets: ‘Public safety’ and ‘Sports & Events’. In the context of this article we focused on the market of ‘Sport and Events’. Current clients are football clubs, FA’s, cities, event organizers and innovative companies in the sector safety and security.

CrowdProfessionals’ generic aim is to improve safety and security within sport (especially football) and events, but at the same time we look into business concepts of (multipurpose) stadiums, arenas and other locations where large crowds assemble. We combine safety and security with a successful and optimized crowd flow towards all services and activities and we proved to be able to enlarge stadium revenues by this! We assist stadium management to deliver an efficient and effective strategic vision on operations and tailor made safety and security plans; plans formed according to FIFA, UEFA and national regulations and demands. We have several innovative partnerships and an international network to serve our clients. One of these exclusive partnerships is with INCONTROL Simulation Solutions.

INCONTROL Simulation Solutions created the leading simulation software Pedestrian Dynamics® that we use to serve clients in the best possible way. The tool was used at several stadiums in Ukraine in preparation for the UEFA European Championship 2012. Nowadays the simulation tool is used worldwide by stadium designers in their modelling, at existing stadiums to analyze and evaluate operations and in a variety of markets at venues where large crowds gather (event venues, train stations, airports and so on) and risks are high. Our collaboration with INCONTROL results in a exclusive high quality partnership that combines scientific analysis with operational efficiency. Our method rapidly raises the bar for all stadium and safety operations and fulfills all demands of liability. Feel free to contact us at