Public authorities and health organizations around the globe published the rule of social distancing recently: keeping a minimum distance between human beings of 1-2 meters (3–6 feet). This rule is introduced for public health protection reasons. Healthy persons and far more important, vulnerable people, must be protected from infection of COVID-19. Question is: Can the impact of infection by introduction of social distancing for public, workers and officials be decreased and how?
Issues related to social distancing
Social distancing is not or temporary possible, caused by the design of a (public) area and/or facilities. Physical limitations of those areas and facilities and also human behaviour are challenging aspects which have to be addressed to guarantee the successful implementation of social distancing. Issues mentioned by authorities and pictured on social media lack clear guidance and limited responsibility of citizens. Examples are unidirectional corridors, a certain number of people allowed, unsafe queuing, no clear routes, narrowing paths, uncontrolled people flows, etc.
Relevant questions in this case are: Is your supermarket able to guarantee a safe distance between customers and workers in the parking lots, queues in front and inside your shop? How is this managed in your hospital or pharmacy? How can I optimize the number of customers and flow and the number of staff while keeping a safe distance? Is the (local)government prepared for ruling and the impact of scaling-down, scaling-up and right-scaling scenario’s? Can I optimize the pedestrian routing in order to maximize safety and increase the capacity of my (public)area and facility?
Contribution of simulation
Officials and citizens are asking for guidelines to (re)organise inner and outdoor areas and facilities to remain safe and reduce the impact of infection by COVID-19. Simulation is adding value to (re)design, optimize operations and monitoring and control these areas and facilities.
Simulation contributes to understand the impact of social distancing. It gives insight and guidance of the impact in public areas and facilities. Our simulation software calculates how people most likely will react to changed ruling, facility lay-outs, routing and flows. Simulation helps to design instructions to citizens and officials to avoid or limit queues in front of and inside shops, parking places, hospitals etc.
The video below shows a simple example of keeping social distance in a supermarket. A dot indicates a person and the circle around him or her indicates the minimum social distance to other persons.
INCONTROL and business partners gathering input data, including generic and specific (local)ruling, statistics, layouts of metropolitan areas, cities and specific (public)areas and facilities. Our advanced simulation models includes aspects of human behaviour. The results are clear graphs, 2-D and 3-D models, decision charts and test scenarios, “what-if” and impact scenarios. In this way Simulation can support (local)government and citizens by a more clear, safe and efficient guidance.
Our simulation software has been contributing over more than 30 years to (re)designing, predicting, controlling and safeguarding city areas, including (sport) venues, airports, transportation hubs and stadiums.