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July 28, 2010

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Testing begins on crowd pressure vests

Pressure vest are being tested at a number of music festivals, which are designed to warn events organisers of a build-up of crowd pressure.

The vests have been designed by researchers at the International Centre for Crowd Management Security Studies at Bucks New University. The device transmits data to event managers so they can monitor the pressure and temperature within the mass of people.

Each vest comprises a cotton waistcoat containing a pneumatic tube, which houses pressure and temperature sensor systems that send data via a wireless link to a radio receiver. Six vests can be monitored simultaneously, and the signals can be received from up to a mile away. Temperature sensors are included because the build-up of heat when people are squashed together can quickly cause dehydration.

Tests have already been carried out at a range of venues including Wembley, the V Festival, Milton Keynes Bowl and Roskilde in Denmark. The vests are designed to complement information on crowd pressure received from MoJo Barriers’ Barrier Load Measuring System, which is one of the most technically advanced pieces of safety equipment in use at major music and sporting events. 

Last week 19 people were killed in a stampede at the Love Parade dance music festival in Duisburg, Germany. Police had been trying to stop people reaching the parade area because of overcrowding.

Professor Chris Kemp from Bucks New University, who initiated the vest project, believes that the device will help to monitor crowds at both small and large events. He said: “A relatively small number of people in an audience cause a large percent of the pressure – so 500 people could create just as much of an issue as 60,000.”

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