During the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham City Centre was expected to attract greater pedestrian activity due to the City Centre sporting venues and the Live Sites operated in key pedestrianised squares.
Designated walking routes (DWRs) were proposed from all major transport hubs to the city centre venues that pass through the Live Sites. However, the client had limited insight into the level of background footfall expected in the area and so there was concern that the addition Games-related demand might create significant disruption on the DWRs and in the Live Sites.
Additionally, some initial operational planning was required to ensure that space was reserved for circulation through the Live Sites at key periods before and after scheduled events at nearby venues.
The team began by visiting the sites to understand all constraints along the DWRs presenting a higher risk of congestion.
The team then leveraged their skills as pioneers in GPS data analysis, and our access to mobile phone data through a bespoke agreement with Virgin Media O2, to provide an estimate of typical public footfall levels throughout the city centre. This proved immediately valuable to the Live Site planning teams, providing insight into typical visitor patterns (commuter vs retail driven) and relative busyness of key city centre areas.
This estimate of public footfall was then layered in with Games-related footfall forecasts to predict the likely crowd conditions on key city centre walking routes.
With this footfall model established, we conducted a spreadsheet-based crowd movement assessment of the DWRs and Live Site overlay plans to understand the specific locations and times that may result in crowd conditions below the agreed standards for the Games.
Finally, a crowd management strategy was outlined along with recommendations to the proposed overlay structure, signage and stewarding to mitigate the risks associated with peak crowd conditions.
Overall, the crowd movement assessment greater helped settle concerns of adverse crowd congestions and reduced the risk to specific locations and time for active crowd management.
The footfall insights generated through GPS data helped understand the available circulation capacity on the key walking routes and enabled the Live Site planning to better align with the expected attendance patterns and demographics.
This independent risk assessment also facilitated planning discussions between several different stakeholders such as Birmingham City Council, transport authorities and the Games Organising Committee.
On the ground, key elements of our crowd management strategy were implemented throughout the city centre and proved both crucial and effective in maintaining continuous circulation along the walking routes at peak times throughout the Games.
Birmingham city centre was buzzing with Games related activity throughout the Games period. As news got out, visitor numbers to the city centre were greater than anticipated and the active crowd management strategy become essential to facilitating access in and out of the Live Sites.