Saturday, September 12, 2009

G20 Media Watch

I still recall my gut reaction when I read the news of the G20 coming here: Protesters Cometh

WSJ ramped up the protester watch yesterday had:  Pittsburgh Steels Itself for G-20 Protests

I really am wondering about something.  Article says Seattle was overwhelmed by 50K protesters.  Could 50K people really fit Downtown?  Granted 100k or so work Downtown, but they spend most of their days on upper floors and are never on the streets all at the same time.  Could the streets of Downtown really accomodate that many folks?  Probably, but then take out the security perimiters and other areas that are going to have to be cordoned off no matter and you get even less space Downtown.  It would be an interesting spatial geography question to figure out what the density would have to be in the area Downtown net of parcel footprints.  Again, even if that is all conceivable, the corridors that such a crowd would have to travel through in order to get to and from Downtown are going to be awfully narrow.  Gonna be interesting. 


Blogger Unknown said...

I actually received a notice from my workplace regarding the possibility of our office spaces (all around Pgh.) being picketed, and how to handle the situation. Due to our business function (primarily energy), I can understand, but it's a little unnerving that they're worried about it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009 7:27:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I don't think it would be any worse than light-up night (or whatever they call the opening of Christmas shopping). I'm wondering where they will sleep if 50,000 people come. I'm not a fan of letting anybody camp in Frick or Schendley.

Saturday, September 12, 2009 7:28:00 PM  
Blogger smallstreams said...

Assuming that the article's estimate of downtown as less than 3 square miles is correct, I'd say 1/10 of that amount, 7.5 million square feet, is ground level surface area. The average person with oustretched arms takes up ~20 sf. For 50,000 people, that's a million sf, total. Getting a bunch of protestors to evenly distribute themselves may be a problem, though.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 5:48:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

But Downtown Pittsburgh is maybe a half square mile in total. It is also a pretty dense area as well. There must be someone out there who has worked out the metrics of crowds.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 9:10:00 PM  
Blogger smallstreams said...

Are you trying to tell me the WSJ got it wrong?

O.K. If downtown is as Wikipedia says .64 square miles (don't be telling me Wikipedia is wrong) then that's 17 million sf. 1/10 of that is 1.7 million sf. Take away the cordoned off area, and you're probably close to a million sf. So that does present us with a problem. The protestors might want to disburse a bit, depending on what their tolerance for patchouli and tear gas is.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 9:28:00 PM  
Blogger smallstreams said...

More information on crowd metrics can be found on the Internet:

Sunday, September 13, 2009 9:34:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I thought 20 sf/person sounded high, so I did some googling. See page four of this.

It shows that up to 2 people per square meter doesn't look that crowded. So, 20 sq. ft./person might be off by something like a factor of four. (Note: searching is a bit tough because everybody is arguing over how many people were in D.C. for the Sept 12 thing.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

ha.. I found that same article Mark found. Wonder if it will be helpful to the local crowd control forces? Has a CMU reference in there as well.

lots of speculating it looks like in crowd metrics everywhere. I really am curious what the area of Downtown is net of structure footprints let alone construction areas that I am sure owners will try to protect. I also think the .64 sq/miles is a bit high and would include areas up through melody tent site which were redefined as Pittsburgh because of tract boundary changes in 2000.

and I am pretty sure a person fleeing from chemicals takes up more space than one in a mosh pit. and we have to account for the thousands of actual police and real people who will be down there as well... not all businesses are closing. I doubt it will he half of the folks working, but if it were that's 50K folks right there.

Monday, September 14, 2009 7:45:00 AM  
Blogger smallstreams said...

Also consider that patterns will look more like emergent behavior than Brownian motion. So, yeah, people will be more like 8/sf and there will be pockets of no population. Whoissit? George Zipf? Languages and words tend to cluster around places. Think of population centers in PA. You're going to see a Philadelphia of a crowd in one place and a Pittsburgh of a crowd in another and places with a lot of emptiness. .

As far as the dynamics go, you'll also see self-organizing behavior. BUT it will be much more unpredictable. Peter Jackson trying to develop the proper algorithms for fighting orcs comes to mind. Hollywood and CGI artists are probably at the leading edge of studying crowd behavior.

Monday, September 14, 2009 1:26:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

fighting orcs comes to mind

That's easy then. They run away once you melt their leader's ring.

Monday, September 14, 2009 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger smallstreams said...

Good one, MH! Please let me know if you see this ring. Must has.

Here's a link to crowds on the National Mall.

Monday, September 14, 2009 3:58:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Since it makes the wearer invisible, I'm guessing Acklin has it.

Monday, September 14, 2009 4:36:00 PM  

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