Kumbh Mela is the largest religious festival, and involves the pilgrimage of 100 million Hindus to a sacred river. The next festival will take place in Ujjain in 2016. Unfortunately, many of the previous versions of this event have been marred by accidents and deaths. Human crowds are complex systems and so predicting their behavior is challenging. However, the combination of computational modeling and data does offer ways in which crowds can be managed.
In the Kumbh Mela Experiment we plan to develop sophisticated methods and algorithms to aid planners and event managers in managing extremely large crowds. The project aims to deliver the core components of an entire crowd management solution, all the way from designing and building personnel devices for tracking movement, to developing advanced computational models to help predict how the crowd may evolve. This leads to a vision of a living simulation where various data sources (personal devices, video cameras, smart phones, monitoring drones) can be fused into models and executed on an advanced compute infrastructure capable of providing both planning, as well as real-time reactive decision-making. This proposal addresses three key research areas related to the understanding and management of huge human crowds: Data Collection; Data Analysis; Modelling and Prediction. The Kumbh Mela Experiment will happen in April-May 2016 and will present a once in a lifetime opportunity to do both extremely exciting new science and application.