Research + Development

Pioneering research in people movement, crowded places and human behaviour in emergencies


Movement Strategies (MS) has engaged in pedestrian movement research for over 10 years. This research has been essential for the innovation and creativity required for us to meet the project challenges faced: evolving scenarios, changing demographic and social conditions, arrival of new technologies and expanding client expectations. The ongoing research efforts of Movement Strategies staff and our partners have been driven by a need to remain innovative, credible and provide practical benefits. To build on existing research activities, we are interested in future research pursuits that relate to …all parts of the people movement narrative…as they make use of a space or structure

… given different scenarios (involving safety, well-being, comfort, operational and security considerations) and across different settings (buildings, transport, critical infrastructure, urban, etc.), while examining conditions at different scales...

to inform our understanding of people movement and meet the objectives of research and practice.

Movement Strategies is at the forefront of the people movement discipline – adopting innovation as part of our everyday practice. Through this we have acquired a large body of evidence (in the form of data and video footage) and expertise from our work across an array of projects, sectors and services – a basis on which research can be developed:

  • Observing people movement (e.g. from video footage, surveys, etc.) and analysing the evidence generated,
  • Applying engineering/computer models to generate projections and insights related to people movement in new scenarios or in new ways,
  • Developing tools and procedures to aid in data analysis, generation and presentation,
  • Informing regulatory guidance to shape the industrial context in which we all operate.

We are open to collaborating with research-active individuals and organisations to explore new opportunities. This includes working with academic, government, consultant/engineering and manufacturer partners. Several of our current partners are shown below.

Research Activities

We have been active in several research areas. This includes participating in funded research projects and supporting ongoing consultancy projects with our research capability to ensure quality and develop novel approaches.  These research activities include conducting project work, producing peer-reviewed publications, developing guidance, delivering of lecture material, supervising students and working on ongoing research areas of interest

Examples Funded Research Projects:

  • Collecting crowd movement/behaviour data as part of the UK Government Events Research Programme in response to the covid-19 pandemic.  Worked with multiple academic partners and UK Government to collect data from 20+ public events to inform Government response of Covid pandemic.
  • Working with the Royal Academy of Engineering X programme to develop case studies / material enabling the complexity of wildfire evacuation events to be better understood. Worked in consortium with UK,EU, US, Australian and Canadian academic and government partners to develop material for education/outreach to demonstrate that the development of disasters is complex rather than complicated.
  • Working for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (US Gov)/ National Fire Protection Association with consortium partners to develop a freely available wildfire modelling platform (pedestrian, traffic and fire). Worked with an international consortium to develop and prepare a free simulation model to quantify community evacuation (representing fire, traffic and pedestrian elements) given wildfire threats for practice.
  • Working for the UK Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to quantify the impact of regulatory measures on evacuation performance. Worked with multiple academic and industrial partners to simulate multiple evacuation scenarios from compliant residential building designs to inform future regulatory developments.
  • Working for the Canadian Government (National Research Council) to expand wildfire evacuation simulation capability to also integrate healthcare facilities, logistics and optimisation of evacuation strategies.
  • Working for the UKRI (in conjunction with University of Edinburgh, University of St.Andrews, Delft University (Netherlands), Munich University of Applied Sciences (Germany), etc.) to examine the impact of emergency responder communication strategies on evacuee response.
  • Working with the Swedish Meteorological Institute and Lund University (Swe) amongst others to develop and index that captures conditions produced when multiple hazards develop.

In addition to externally funded research, we also have ongoing internally funded interests to support our practice, including model development (see discussion on SENSETM), crowd behaviour at stadia, and the collection of pedestrian/evacuee data to support the modelling process.


Movement Strategies staff have authored or co-authored 17 peer-reviewed publications since 2022. These include articles published in respected journals including Safety Science and Fire Safety Journal.

The following papers are awaiting publication in 2023:

E. Ronchi, J. Wahlqvist, A. Ardinge, A. Rohaert, S. M. V. Gwynne, G. Rein, H. Mitchell, N. Kalogeropoulos, M. Kinateder, N. Bénichou, E. Kuligowski, A. Kimball, The verification of wildland-urban interface fire evacuation models, Natural Hazard, 2023

Kuligowski, Gwynne, Antonellis, Pongratz, Westbury, Simulating Evacuation of Humanitarian Settlements, Fire Technology, 2023

Templeton, Nash, Lewis, Gwynne, Spearpoint,Information sharing and support among residents in response to fire incidents in high-rise residential buildings, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction., 2023.

Arthur Rohaerta, Erica D. Kuligowskib, Adam Ardinge, Jonathan Wahlqvista, Steven M.V. Gwynnea,c, Amanda Kimballd, Noureddine Bénichoue, Enrico Ronchia *, Traffic dynamics during the 2019 Kincade wildfire evacuation,Transportation Research Part D, 2023

Gwynne, Ronchi, Wahlqvist, Cuesta, Gonzalez, Kuligowksi, Kimball, Kinateder, Benichou, Xie, Roxborough Park Community Wildfire Evacuation Drill: Data Collection and Model Benchmarking, Fire Technology, 2023

Leo Willem Menzemer, Enrico Ronchi, Mette Marie Vad Karsten, Steve Gwynne and Janne Frederiksen,A scoping review and bibliometric analysis of methods for fire evacuation training in buildings, Fire Safety Journal, 2023

Templeton, Nash, Spearpoint, Gwynne, Xie,Arnott,  Who and what is trusted in fire incidents? The role of trust in guidance and guidance creators in resident response to fire incidents in high-rise residential buildings, Safety Science, 2023

Tavana H., Thompson P, Boyce K, Frantzich H, Nilsson D, McGrath D, A novel approach to the investigation and quantification of the stop/start process for pedestrian traffic using motion capture devices, Travel Behaviour and Society, submitted Sept 2022, review in progress.

Yakhou N, Thompson P, Siddiqui A, Abualdenien J, Ronchi E, The Integration of Building Information Modelling and Fire Evacuation Models, Journal of Building Engineering, ScienceDirect, (accepted, for publication in 2023).

Guidance Development

  • Contributed to the latest edition of the Green Guide. For the past year, we have been sharing our technical expertise and experience as an input to the drafting process of the 6th edition of the Guide to Safety at Sports Ground
  • Worked in Network Rail to identify expected rail passenger behaviour given incident scenarios to support development of future iterations of Station Capacity Planning Guidance
  • Contributed to development of guidance related to community safety in response to Wildland Urban Interface fires in conjunction with the National Research Council Canada
  • Developed of ‘Guidance on designing for crowds - an integrated approach’
  • Contributed to Society of Fire Protection Engineers Guide on Evacuation from Very Tall Buildings
  • Contributed to Society of Fire Protection Engineers Handbook – chapters relating to computer modelling, engineering calculations, engineering data and wildfire evacuation.

Lecture Material

Development and delivery of lecture material on evacuation and pedestrian dynamics in conjunction with:

  • Glasgow Caledonian University (UK)
  • Lund University (Sweden)
  • University of Maryland (US)
  • Crowd Dynamics training for National Arena Association and Festival Republic; Various speeches on Planning for Emergencies –  Cabinet Office, festival republic conference
  • Manchester Metropolitan University MSc course on Crowd Collapse (US).
  • Society of Fire Protection Engineers (US/International)

Our team have delivered more than 50 presentations to academic, professional, regulatory and industrial partners since 2019. These have included international/technical conferences (e.g. FEMTC, IAFSS, Interflam, IAWF), industry expos / network (e.g. FIREX, FireCo network etc.), academic guest lectures (Imperial College, University of Central Lancashire, Bristol University, etc.), and associations (e.g. NAHFO, IFSM, etc.).

Student Supervision

Our team has been involved in the supervision of over 9 undergraduate, post-graduate and post-doctoral student projects since 2022, in conjunction with:


  • Lund University - Virtual Means for Evacuation Training, Ongoing
  • Memorial University - Naval Fire Safety and Related Crew Response, Ongoing
  • University of Greenwich - Immersive Real-Time Multi-User Interaction With Computer Simulated Pedestrians During Emergencies, Completed


Lund University
  • Testing the wildland-urban interface fire evacuation tool WUI-NITY: A case study of a rural community, Completed
  • The Development of a Simple Engineering Calculation Method for Wildfire Evacuation Scenarios, Completed
  • Validation of WUI-NITY compared to real-world data, Completed
  • Requirements for Modelling WUI Fire Evacuation by Unconventional Means, Completed
  • The Application of a Wildfire Evacuation Tool to Swedish locations, Ongoing

University of Maryland
  • Modelling Crowd Movement Using an Evacuation Tool, Ongoing

We want to continue to be innovators in people movement. To do so, we need to be active researchers. Our aim is to enhance our understanding of core subject matter across scenarios of interest and our capacity to apply this understanding and integrate our research findings and sensibilities into our engineering practice. And, of course, be of benefit to the wider people movement community and those they serve.

Related case studies

See all our case studies