Kiwi firm trims Olympic queues

A New Zealand firm's work should help fans get smoothly in and out of Olympic venues in London.

Consultancy Beca won the contract to provide crowd modelling which will be used to smooth the way for those who have bought nearly nine million tickets to the Olympics, which open on July 27.

Computer modelling developed three years ago can show where crowds will form and how big they will become under different scenarios.

Beca's information has helped engineers to design venues and event planners to reconfigure access so bottlenecks happen at the right places, or they can change schedules to spread the arrival and departure times of crowds.

Project leader for Beca, Alan Kerr, said his firm was selected ahead of other, British, companies.

Assessments of crowd flows and security arrangements have been done for a number of the temporary venues, including Lords cricket ground where archery will take place and the Wimbledon tennis centre.

Spectators would still have to queue for events which Beca had assumed in its modelling would be sold out.

Kerr said the crowd modelling was a niche business for Beca which is a multidisciplinary technical consultancy with 2500 staff based in offices around the Asia-Pacific region.

The company was involved in crowd modelling in Wellington and Dunedin for last year's Rugby World Cup.

Kerr said he was called in as a consultant after the opening night debacle when crowds at Auckland's waterfront overwhelmed transport and public areas.

Other projects in New Zealand have included the Volvo Ocean Race and work modelling crowd behaviour at Auckland Airport and Wellington Zoo.

- NZ Herald

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