Researchers in China have developed a machine-learning algorithm that predicts whether crowds are likely to form at certain locations, a tool that could aid authorities in executing better crowd control and possibly be used to prevent stampedes, according to Baidu's big data lab.
Baidu's map app accounts for over 70 per cent of China's mapping services market and boasts about 300 million active users each month, Baidu's user statistics show. As such, many Chinese users often search for an ideal travel route using Baidu Maps.
Researchers at the Chinese search engine giant claim to have found a pattern that correlates positively by studying the number of map queries and the number of users in an area.
They then devised a way to crunch the numbers in real time and trigger warnings one to three hours ahead of time if unusually large crowds are expected to gather based on their data. This occurs when the number of queries for a specific location crosses a set threshold.
They published their findings in an academic paper earlier this week.
Machine learning is applied so that the algorithm can learn from search queries and better predict future crowds. This should help officials and organisers of event in China better prepare to handle the flow of human traffic at outdoor celebrations, the company said.