Crowd panic detection in video streams

This blog post is provided by Vicomtech

Overview of the panic detection

In today's society, there has been a noticeable increase in situations where large crowds gather, whether at concerts, sporting events or during routine activities such as shopping. While these gatherings promote a sense of community and enjoyment, they also pose potential risks, ranging from terrorist threats to accidents or unforeseen events with the potential to cause harm. 

Traditionally, the solution to enhancing security in public spaces has been the use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, monitored by a human operator. However, the sheer volume of CCTV cameras in use today has made traditional surveillance systems somewhat outdated and ineffective. This is where the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes a compelling and essential aspect of modern public safety and security measures. 

The unique capabilities of AI, such as handling large volumes of data, automating alerting, and increasing situational awareness, make it the cornerstone of today's security environment. The use of AI in conjunction with human surveillance efforts provides law enforcement agencies with a powerful tool that enables them to quickly address potentially dangerous situations with the maximum amount of information available. 

A notable application of AI in this context is the usage of a panic detection tool. This tool understands a given scene's dynamics or movement and analyses its human behaviour. This functionality allows the system to differentiate between normal circumstances and situations where panic may be present, providing law enforcement with a precise and quick evaluation. 


Developments within APPRAISE 

During the APPRAISE project, significant progress was made in the development of the Panic Detection Tool, which is specifically designed to detect panic situations in crowds in public spaces. The tool has been used to understand the scene as a whole, rather than analysing each individual. This approach enables the tool to operate effectively even in massive crowds, a critical feature for real-world applications. 

A key consideration in the detection of panic events is the time lag between the tool's detection and the event's actual occurrence. This tool requires just one second of video to fully interpret the events as they occur, ensuring a remarkably fast response to potential panic situations. The tool has also been designed with an intelligent queuing system that provides the tool with the last available second of video, always analysing the actual footage in the scene.  

As the APPRAISE project progressed, the Panic Detection Tool continued to evolve, benefiting greatly from simulated pilots. These simulations not only facilitated the testing of the tool in realistic and diverse scenarios but also helped to refine its performance through rich data collection. The final tool's capabilities extend across a range of conditions, including different lighting conditions and camera angles and locations, demonstrating its versatility and effective adaptability. Multiple tests were conducted in both indoor and outdoor environments with crowds of varying sizes, achieving consistently positive results across the spectrum of scenarios. 


Benefit for the protection of public spaces 

The panic detection tool developed within the APPRAISE project offers a significant advantage for the protection of public spaces due to its unique capabilities. By providing a holistic, real-time understanding of crowd situations without the need for individual analysis, the tool efficiently identifies panic events without extracting personal information. Its rapid response, requiring only one second of video footage, ensures swift intervention in potential crises. Moreover, the tool's adaptability to various environmental conditions, camera positions, and crowd sizes enhances its effectiveness, making it a valuable asset for law enforcement in safeguarding public spaces against unforeseen dangers and improving overall situational awareness. 

In summary, the integration of AI into public safety operations represents a significant step forward in addressing the challenges posed by large gatherings in today's society. The combination of AI's analytical capabilities with human surveillance expertise creates a powerful synergy, providing law enforcement with the means to respond quickly and effectively to potential threats, ultimately ensuring the safety of the public in a variety of scenarios.