Crowd counting 2: MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Following on from our previous experiment, the researcher repeated the crowd counting exercise in a more crowded environment, with a more complex task for Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) to attempt.

(Read Part 1 to get the intro, method and background)

We will also be talking about crowd densities, comparing different types of events (Comic conventions) and looking at the size of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC).

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Crowd counting with a 360 camera and Amazon Mechanical Turk

A proof of concept to establish how timelapse 360 photography could be used to count crowds and examine general crowd dynamics at events.


Outdoor events of all types, and especially those that are more temporary, moving (parades, processions) free to attend or unticketed typically have a difficult time establishing accurate figures for attendance.  Organizers may be incentivised to over-estimate these figures for funding or political reasons; they might also be incentivised to under-estimate these figures for licensing reasons. For sufficiently large events, or events that have taken place multiple times, organisers and emergency services will likely have produced an estimate though the methods and assumptions behind these often vary and there is rarely a clear process by which the process can be examined or scrutinized. Clearly from history and policy, a scientifically accurate estimate of attendance is rarely a requirement, arguably even ticketed and paid events could feasibly be wrong about their levels of attendance. Increasing study of events of all types mean this is a key area or investigation, or at least a key ‘stat’ for discussion. The technical feasibility and time required to carry out head counting, sampling and wider estimation is generally beyond the usual time-pressed event organiser.

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Lomography: love, love/hate, then just hate

But Rich! You always struck me as a ‘new-age-fun-with-a-vintage-feel’ kind of guy! Didn’t you work in a camera shop? Haven’t you got like at least four cameras, some of which could be termed ‘quirky’ or ‘retro’? Isn’t one of them a camera from the company: Lomographic Society?

Gear lust

Yes to all of the above. (Except the first one) I blame working in a camera shop, and innate nerdiness for developing a relatively short lived period of gear lust. Photography being one of the areas I think is quite easy to develop (ha) gear lust in, especially when it comes to vintage (ie: expensive, old and often more trouble than they are worth) cameras. So many features, so many numbers, so many brands, makes, models, ranges… so much obtuse nerdy tech history tied up with obtuse art-nerdy history.

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How could anything you do with a camera THIS fancy, NOT be art?

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