How Do The Media Estimate Crowd Sizes?

The number of people in attendance at an event may seem pretty uncontroversial on its face, but it can turn political—just take the comparison between the crowd sizes at Donald Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017 and those at the Women's March protest the next day. How exactly do people estimate attendance based on pictures of crowds? There's actually a tried-and-true formula, and it's called the Jacobs Method. Watch the video below to learn more about it.

How Do the Media and Police Estimate Crowd Sizes?

Introducing the Jacobs Method.

What's Wrong With The Media

Should you trust mainstream media?

How Crowds Can Kill You

Crowd crush is deceptively dangerous.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. A high density crowd is defined as a crowd where there are 6 or more people per square meter. At that concentration, people in the crowd begin to lose the ability to move on their own accord, and the crowd tends to behave a lot like a fluid. 00:47

  2. If the crowd is packed tightly enough, you can lose the ability to inflate your lungs. Suffocating in this way is known as "crowd crush." "Progressive crowd collapse" happens when one person falls, leading other people to fall in a domino effect that ends up crushing those on the bottom of the pile of fallen people. 01:08

  3. It's a misconception that people most often die in crowds due to mass panics and stampedes. The fact is that if you have enough room to run over your fellow humans in a stampede, those people probably have enough room to get out of the way. Likewise, very rarely do crowds experience mass panic and move in a panicked way. You can suffocate from crowd crush in a very calm crowd. 02:42

Written by Curiosity Staff January 23, 2017

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