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As the world’s population has grown and our cities have filled with people, simulating the movement and behaviour of crowds became more essential than ever. Not only for our safety and security, but for our enjoyment and how we experience a space. Since the start of the current pandemic, the concept of risk in crowded places is changing. It is not just a question of how to keep people safe from congestion but how to keep people spaced apart to reduce risk of transmission. Having been instrumental in the movement analysis of people in events across the world, Dr Aoife Hunt explores how maths, simulation and big data have improved our planning in the pre - and post - COVID world.

Following her maths degree at the University of Greenwich, Aoife was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to undertake a PhD in the area of fire evacuation modelling. This is a field of study that uses computer simulations to assess how people might respond to a fire emergency, and to predict how quickly people might be able to escape from a building. Aoife developed new algorithms which could assess evacuation in a hospital environment by representing people with disabilities, who may need assistance to escape. This was the first PhD to tackle this computational problem, and Aoife was the first woman to win the prestigious Student Scholar Award from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. Aoife’s algorithms are now being used by modellers internationally to assess the evacuation of hospitals and healthcare environments, to ensure safe means of escape for people with disabilities.

Further information on Aoife Hunt:

Aoife Hunt outreach bio:

Irish Times (article): BBC Future (article): BBC Science Focus (panel): RTE Radio 1: BBC Radio 4:
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