Events

Smart wristbands to spot violence at gigs & footy matches

By Kitty Knowles 1 March 2017
Coldplay is know for issuing fans light-up bracelets. Pic: Xylobands
Summary

Mapping out mob mentality.

Whether you’re singing your heart out or shouting at the referee, we all know emotion runs high in crowds.

Not only can fights break out, but sheer excitement can result in people accidentally being crushed.

Now, one group of researchers want to help make events safer in a rather surprising way:

They’re encouraging fans to wear internet-connected wristbands.

Smart security

Smart bracelets in stadiums are nothing new: they’ve already been used in ticketing, and even as part of light shows (we’re looking at you Coldplay).

Today however, they’re being used to collect data so that staff can pinpoint disturbances.

Sudden movements, for example, showing people running away or quickly gathering together, could well indicate an outbreak of violence, alerting staff well before any fracas was visible from afar.

“The wristbands can help detect behaviour in a crowd,” Professor Paolo Remagnino, a lead researcher from London’s Kingston University told The Memo.

“They preserve safety and keep the premises secure.”

Fans watch the rugby at Headingley Stadium, Leeds. Pic:CC/Mtaylor848
Fans watch the rugby at Headingley Stadium, Leeds. Pic:CC/Mtaylor848

Collecting data

Kingston University is just one of 28 organisations working on making smart events a reality, as part of the €15m European Commission funded MONICA project.

Other Brits on board include Leeds Beckett UniversityVCA Technology, and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, while European pilots will also run at Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen, and at public street parties in Turin, Italy.

Some of the first sports fans to trial the smart wristbands will actually be at Headingley Stadium, Leeds (home to rugby and cricket matches).

Smart wristbands will be piloted at Tivoli Gardens amusement park, Copenhagen. Pic:CC/Malte Hübner
Smart wristbands will be piloted at Tivoli Gardens amusement park, Copenhagen. Pic:CC/Malte Hübner

A bold vision

As part of the same three-year project, Remagnino is also exploring how drones could be used to collect ‘eye in the sky’ data, and how body-worn cameras could “record video of usual and unusual and potentially dangerous situations.”

Beyond this Remagnino would like to see data used to engage and entertain audiences, potentially even with the help of virtual reality.

“With connected devices and video, people in a stadium might be able to feel part of an unfolding event as a community, not as individuals,” he says.

Whether you live for music, or never miss a match, smart wristbands are coming to a stadium near you soon.