The application of computer-based crowd simulation in the Asia Pacific region to de-risk the design process and plan for operational change…

As crowd simulation software tools such as Oasys MassMotion continue to evolve, they should be the design tools of choice for major infrastructure projects in the rail environment. Transportation authorities rely on simulation to understand the performance implications of design decisions considering future conditions and use it to inform the design process from project inception. Major rail stations represent significant investments with long operational lives, through which many changes can be expected. Simulation tools also enable the design to be responsive to the concerns of rail stakeholders to rapidly test a large number of potential operational scenarios.

Rail environments are uniquely suited to testing through emergent simulation: there is often acceptable data around target passenger demand but limited ideas of how designs will react to realistic crowding events. Oasys MassMotion is a leading crowd simulation package that uses BIM compatible workflows and a fully 3D environment to rapidly test designs. The simulation reports provide feedback on congestion, individual and average journey times, underused space and facilitate design optimisation throughout the design process. User experience and feedback informs the development of new features and these in turn are leading to increased adoption throughout the Asia Pacific region.

To consider simulation only in the design phase would be an error: the rail industry is swiftly adopting these tools to plan for operational conditions such as construction phasing, operational breakdown, and degraded timetables and delays. Oasys MassMotion was created to address design issues in complex rail environments that other tools did not easily answer and continues to develop to support this evolving industry.

BIM compatible workflows and increasing automation

As the rail industry undergoes a digital evolution, ensuring tools are designed to interact with new ways of working is critical. Oasys MassMotion was conceived and built around BIM principles and continues to evolve as a tool of choice for rail environments, ranging from simple station checks to provide clarity of design intent and stakeholder communication, through to the understanding of complex transport hub environments with interacting modes and multiple operational scenarios.

Oasys MassMotion users can create station models within the software using the in-built 3D modelling tools or, as is more usually the case, import geometry from a wide variety of AEC standard tools. Oasys continually updates these import options to stay at the forefront of BIM workflows: upcoming changes to BIM (IFC file) imports reduce time taken to import and classify geometry by up to an order of magnitude.

Sophisticated computer simulation is only of value if the results can be readily assimilated and understood. Oasys MassMotion provides clear visualisation and analytics for rail performance, such as passenger density maps, platform clearance metrics, and egress time calculations that help objectively assess and compare designs. Results can also be exported to 3D modelling packages for further compelling visualisations: the MassMotion roadmap also contains new visualisation options to provide further flexibility when communicating crowd movement to clients.

Data trapped in a proprietary format is data and not information. As a result, Oasys MassMotion uses industry standard databases and to aid communication with non-technical stakeholders there is a free viewer program that supports a range of 3D visualisation headsets.

In a rapidly moving design world, producing these metrics on tight timeframes can present a challenge. The MassMotion Software Development Kit (SDK) offers unprecedented ability to automate the generation of results from multiple scenarios, rapidly reducing the time taken to export and compare design performance.

Rail projects using the SDK have automated results generation as part of broader digital workflows to enable rapid turnarounds between design change, analysis, and communication to stakeholders and decision makers.

Testing operational changes and resilience

How does pedestrian simulation work? There are a variety of methodologies from the very basic to advanced algorithms based on the latest research and social behavioural models. Oasys MassMotion has an advanced wayfinding and route choice algorithm, the intelligent agents find their way to their destination based on their individual perceived cost of all alternative routes. The agents exhibit dynamic behaviour, reacting to congestion and changing routes without user intervention. This advanced approach allows for rapid testing of different scenarios without forcing the user to map out various journeys. The design is tested, rather than the assumptions of the modeller.

Oasys MassMotion additionally has a flexible timetable import system that allows for simulations based on large amounts of detailed rail data. Import your schedule, population, origins and destinations of virtually any complexity and MassMotion will automatically route the agents through the model. This system directly interfaces with spreadsheet systems and can also be automated based on input data. Hence, importing of changed timetables to test the impact of degraded service or missed headways can be performed in far less time.

As mentioned previously new features are developed in response to user requirements, providing even more flexibility for testing operational scenarios. In version 10 of Oasys MassMotion, elevators were introduced for full modelling of vertical circulation in stations. The new Network object allows easy definition of agents with restricted mobility so users can assess the impact of operational performance such as an escalator failure and have agents dynamically reroute to their goal, or quantify the difference in platform journey time across designs for agents who can and cannot use escalators and stairs to ensure inclusive design.

Use in Asia Pacific

Oasys MassMotion is used in rail environments all around the world, from Asia to the Americas and across Europe. Designers and operators across the Asia Pacific region are incorporating MassMotion into their workflows. Major rail and metro projects in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia have used MassMotion in the previous 18 months, with many ongoing projects throughout design, construction, and operation. MassMotion is used in the Asia Pacific region by transportation agencies, consultants and engineers, and architects operating throughout the rail environment.

In addition to assessments of station performance from a transportation perspective, MassMotion is also used in the Asia Pacific region on a wide variety of project types, ranging from evacuation studies of tall structures, assessments of circulation through malls, airport design and operations, and stadium optimisation and egress studies.

As a result of this increased usage, Oasys MassMotion 10.5 will be released in late 2019 with full Chinese language support, greatly increasing ease of use for Chinese speakers. This is a major milestone as the first non-English language translation, reflecting the growth of MassMotion in Asia as a planning and design tool.

Overall, simulation tools to assess crowd flow are forming a core part of design and operational workflows. As the rail industry continues to adopt digital practices and make design decisions based on data, Oasys MassMotion continues to grow and evolve to suit this need. From simple design checks to de-risk investment through to production of living models that are updated throughout the design, construction and operation of major facilities providing more value over time, Oasys MassMotion has a role to play in ensuring people are at the heart of the rail design process.

For more information or a short-term trial licence for Oasys MassMotion use the below contact information

Tel: +44(0) 207 755 4515

Email: [email protected] quoting RPAP.