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Barcelona living lab

From:  Chloe Cortes Balcells (CIMNE- CENIT)
Last edited: 8 June 2020

Sagrada Familia

The current situation in all European cities, buildings and infrastructures, in general, is that these entities are conceived as rigid bodies. Therefore, changing completely its architecture is not a viable option. However, if visited a large building it can be easily seen that modifications are being done. By modifications, it can be understood as additions, remodeling and general maintenance.

The Barcelona living lab is located at the Sagrada Familia area, a major tourist attraction. During summer 2021, the city infrastructure will gather thorough insights considering the flow dynamics in the urban area around Sagrada Familia, by means of the tool as explained later. This will provide input for the pending redesign of the pedestrian space surrounding the Sagrada Familia.

The starting point is running simulations that predict the human behavior in mass events to improve security and comfort. The following step is introducing big data to this equation. Big data that will be obtained by images, cellphones but mainly radio frequency (RFID’s). This data will be used together with the simulations in order to predict in a more accurate way. Providing information to fill the inputs with a more realistic and precise details about the crowd.

The simulation program

The code that will be used to compute the simulations, will be the PEDFLOW code [1]. It is a model based on a combination of force-based and agent-based methods [2]. PEDFLOW has its own set of pre-processing tools that allow quick and easy import of geometrical/architectural data, specification of boundary conditions and pedestrian data, specification of diagnostics/output options, as well as all other runtime parameters. More detailed information can be found here.  In this project, the tool will be executed so as to be able to re-plan the pedestrian pathways.

Pilot Plaça Espanya

Currently the technology is being tested by Chloe Cortes Balcells in a similar scenario that the one that needs to be done in Sagrada Familia. This scenario is the area of Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, that is next to Maria Cristina Avenue. Several concerts are held in this place during the year. In the figures, you can see the meshed area that is being studied, the velocities at different time steps. Also the discomfort that pedestrians experiment at these different time steps is simulated.

Actions to develop this project

Our experience with sensor systems is broad and diverse, and if we want to do a filter before sending the data, we will need to know the existing or recognized infrastructure and available hardware in detail. With the filtering algorithms it will be necessary to analyse what they want to filter specifically if they want to make more complex averages, thresholds or calculations. In any case, these calculations should be embedded in the hardware of servers on the local network, if any.

Next to that, we will be in charge of deciding how to integrate the simulation data to the support system. First of all, we need to ensure that the data structure will be the same, this means that the input provided to the platform will be the same for everybody. So deciding which format will be chosen is necessary since the different pedestrian models need to give outputs that the DSS module can recognise.

For the postprocess, a study of the most relevant indicators will be performed. Some interviews on an international level will be done to see if they have similar models and see which KPI’s are more appealing to them. Taking this into account, we will choose what to show, this means the visualising options of the platform.

Due to COVID-19, RFID’s won’t be installed until mid 2021, so the first calibration of the model will be based on the data provided by a study that was done a couple years ago by the tourism of Barcelona. We expect first results by the end of 2020. In 2021, this task will be completed by validating the model and the best design solution using the data provided by the sensors.


[1] Rainald Lohner, Muhammad Baqui, Eberhard Haug, and Britto Muhamad. Realtime micro-modelling of a million pedestrians. Engineering Computations, 2016

[2] Rainald Lohner, Britto Muhamad, Prabhu Dambalmath, and Eberhard Haug. Fundamental diagrams for specific very high density crowds. Collective Dynamics, 2:1–15, 2018

[3] Rainald Lohner, Eberhard Haug, Claudio Zinggerling, and Eugenio O˜nate. Realtime micro-modelling of city evacuations. Computational Particle Mechanics, 5, 01 2017.