Cover: How can crowd behaviour modelling be used to prevent and respond to violence and antisocial behaviour at Qatar 2022?

How can crowd behaviour modelling be used to prevent and respond to violence and antisocial behaviour at Qatar 2022?

Published Dec 11, 2018

by Julian Glenesk, Lucy Strang, Emma Disley

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Research Question

  1. How can crowd behaviour modelling be used to prevent and respond to violent and antisocial behaviour at Qatar 2022?

This case study is part of a research project which RAND Europe was commissioned to undertake by Qatar University, examining violent and antisocial behaviours at football events, the factors associated with these behaviours, and strategies to prevent and reduce their occurrence. In line with the overall aim of this study, this case study offers early reflections on these topics in relation to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in Russia.

The aim of this case study is to explore the potential for crowd behaviour modelling (CBM) to inform crowd management strategies to minimise the risk of violent or antisocial behaviour taking place during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and to reduce harm if it does take place. The case study builds on evidence identified in earlier stages of the project relating to violent and antisocial behaviours at football events and factors associated with these behaviours, as well as interventions to prevent and reduce violent and antisocial behaviour at football events (Strang et al. 2018; Taylor et al. 2018).

It is based on a review of academic and grey literature, desk research on relevant tools and applications, prior experience in CBM among the RAND Europe research team, and interviews with internationally renowned experts who have experience of applying CBM.

Key Findings

  • Crowd behaviour modelling (CBM) is the practice of simulating and predicting pedestrian movements within a space such as a stadium, using specialist modelling software.
  • It informs the physical design of stadiums as well as the management of people and crowds within a space once stadiums are built and in use, to minimise the risk of and harm from any violent or antisocial behaviour.
  • CBM can capture the complex cultural, individual and environmental differences in how people move in a space to predict how mixed crowds behave.
  • CBM is most effective when it is collaborative and iterative between the experts carrying out the modelling, the client and relevant parties such as stadium security officers.
  • CBM allows event planners to see how features of the environment, such as using wayfaring strategies or reducing queuing time for security, have an impact on crowd behaviour and safety.


  • The World Cup brings together individuals from a range of national and cultural traditions, with different norms about behaviours and movement in a crowd, which means that crowd behaviour might change depending on the makeup of the crowd at a given match. CBM can be used to help plan bespoke crowd management approaches for Qatar 2022.
  • In addition to using CBM within the stadiums, Qatar 2022 planners could use the method to undertake modelling in other areas where it is expected fans will congregate, such as fan zones and public transport stations
  • The development of models should be undertaken with close collaboration between contractors undertaking the modelling and the individuals who are responsible for the day-to-day operational management of the modelled space.
  • CBM adds most value when it takes place early enough for the layout of key outdoor spaces and stadiums to be changed according to the results of the modelling.
  • CBM is most effective when is highly tailored to the specific details of the space and the make-up of the crowd.
  • CBM should be undertaken in parallel with operational planning such as the training given to all those involved in managing the space (police, volunteers, security personnel, etc.).
  • Stadiums in similar environments should be examined for guidance and lessons learned.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was commissioned by Qatar University and conducted by RAND Europe.

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