Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Feeding the five thousand -- or was it three? Researchers claim most crowd estimations are unreliable

Date:
August 26, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
The public should view crowd estimation with skepticism, say the authors of a new study, as they suggest more reliable alternatives to current estimating methods.

The public should view crowd estimation with skepticism, say the authors of a study published in Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association, as they suggest more reliable alternatives to current estimating methods.

Estimates of crowd sizes vary greatly, and the success of an event is often measured by the size of the crowd. Organizers of the 2007 "Stop the War" demonstration in London reported crowds of 60,000, whereas the police reported just 10,000. The US Government's estimate of the crowds at Obama's inauguration ceremony was 1.8 million, while other estimates were much less, closer to one million. "In the absence of any accurate estimation methods, the public are left with a view of the truth colored by the beliefs of the people making the estimates," claims Professor Paul Yip, of the University of Hong Kong, one of the authors of the study.

Such a huge discrepancy in estimates is currently not unusual and suggests the use of crowd sizes as a political tool. Larger crowd sizes are a means of recruiting others to the cause, and it is more difficult for the authorities to ignore demands. "The authorities are sometimes put in a difficult position," says Yip. "It is important to highlight the shortcomings of existing estimating methods."

In this latest study, the authors reveal several more accurate, more reliable methods of estimating crowd sizes. Currently, even when searching for the truth, there is a wide margin of error. The authors recommend organizers and authorities use an area x density estimating method for static crowds, which reduces the margin of error to less than 10%. Furthermore, they have devised an entirely new method of reliably estimating mobile crowds. Two inspection points are placed along the route where the number of participants is estimated, not too close together and with one near the end. In applying this two-inspection-point method to the Hong Kong 1st July march (a demonstration of widely-varying claimed size and of great political sensitivity) since 2003, more reliable estimates can then be obtained.

"It is important to rectify the myth of counting people. The public would be better served by estimates less open to political bias. Our study shows that crowd estimates with a margin of error of less than 10% can be achieved with the proposed method," Yip concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ray Watson, Paul Yip. How many were there when it mattered? Estimating the sizes of crowds. Significance, September 2011: 104-107 DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-9713.2011.00502.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Feeding the five thousand -- or was it three? Researchers claim most crowd estimations are unreliable." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110824191733.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, August 26). Feeding the five thousand -- or was it three? Researchers claim most crowd estimations are unreliable. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110824191733.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Feeding the five thousand -- or was it three? Researchers claim most crowd estimations are unreliable." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110824191733.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google's Self-Driving Car Still Has Many Flaws

Google's Self-Driving Car Still Has Many Flaws

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) You've seen a lot of Google's self-driving car, but that doesn't mean it's coming soon. A new report says the vehicle is nowhere near road ready. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple's Rumored iWatch Could Cost $400

Apple's Rumored iWatch Could Cost $400

Newsy (Aug. 31, 2014) Apple is expected to charge a premium for its still-rumored wearable device. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazon Chases Netflix And HBO With Five New Pilots

Amazon Chases Netflix And HBO With Five New Pilots

Newsy (Aug. 31, 2014) Amazon has released another batch of five pilots, allowing viewers to vote on which shows will get full seasons on the company's streaming service. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Wants Your iPhone To Become Your Wallet

Apple Wants Your iPhone To Become Your Wallet

Newsy (Aug. 31, 2014) Apple might soon announce a feature that would allow iPhones to act as a credit card when making payments in physical stores. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins