Eng. Mohammed Mudassar-MTech, MIE, MIET, SDS™ SMIEEE-is a seasoned professional with splendid diverse experience of about sixteen years. He is a Senior Member in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a Senior Member in International Society of Automation, and a Senior Data Scientist from the Data Science Council of America. He worked on several research projects and co-authored several international journals and conferences publications. He shares his exceptional work with Rashida Bakait of India Tomorrow on `Crowd Evacuation’ with Masjid Al Nabwi as the prime focus.
Q. To begin with, please tell us about Data Science, as it might be a new term for some of our readers?
Ans. Data Science is the most talked about discipline in current times. It is an interdisciplinary field and is mainly driven by business needs. In fact, it creates various opportunities for monetizing and creating a competitive edge by leveraging organizational data. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, a tendency has been seen to develop a wrong notion about it. So basically, Data Science broadly constitutes three dimensions: computational, cognitive, and business. The computational dimension involves software technologies and related aspects;the cognitive dimension involves artificial intelligence at large and in particular machine learning, data mining, and other related aspects. The third and most important dimension is the business dimension that encompasses various domains and provides the application areas for various technological information. Many journals and conferences have come up in this field over the last decade.
Q. The aim of your research work on Crowd Evacuation?
Ans. Analyzing the Crowd Evacuation pattern is the central focus and the topic of the research. For the first time, the Crowd Evacuation simulation and its rigorous statistical analysis have been done for Al Masjid Al Nabawi in Al Madinah Al Munawarrah. In the present age, it is common to witness huge crowds gathering at a specific place for myriad purposes- sport events, political rallies, significant religious events, and many other scenarios. Crowd safety, safe and smooth flow within the premises and while exiting become vital, and these are the primary concerns of any effective crowd monitoring and management system. The Crowd Evacuation simulation was conducted using the Legion Evac software that does an amazing crowd evacuation simulation with real-life scenarios.
In this research, the rigorous statistical analysis of the Crowd Evacuation pattern, through Crowd Evacuation simulation for a large and densely populated building, with Al Masjid Al Nabawi as the prime focus is conducted, to aid significantly ineffective crowd monitoring and management.
Q. Your role in this work and mention any challenges faced?
Ans. Initially, my role has been to understand all the aspects of the crowd visiting Al Masjid Al Nabawi and configuring those aspects into the simulation software Legion Evac. The aspects in simple terms include the crowd’s characteristics that visit from different countries and cultures like their physical attributes, their general speed of walking, etc. The core challenge has been that, when the research began, the problem and scope of research were not apparent.
The only direction envisioned was simulating the crowd evacuation and reporting the behaviour as output by the software – some graphs and the time for evacuation. However, eventually, it was realized that such an output would not effectively aid in Crowd Monitoring and Management. At this juncture, with my thorough understanding of the Legion Evac software and my past experience in Data Mining and statistical analysis, I have come up with the framework for analyzing the Crowd Evacuation pattern centered on the concept of Crowd Evacuation pattern. I have conceptualized the notion of crowd evacuation pattern that is holistically represented by various metrics computed by the software during evacuation. Finally, I have proposed and conducted a rigorous statistical methodology involving inferential statistical techniques and hypothesis testing to derive various insights from the crowd evacuation pattern to aid in effective crowd monitoring and management.
Q. How do you think this research would be beneficial to Society?
Ans. It would be best applicable for crowded places, as mentioned earlier. The framework provided by this research helps in deriving valuable insights by analyzing the crowd evacuation pattern for effective crowd monitoring and management. Various responsible bodies and organizations could adopt the framework in real-life scenarios to improve the quality of crowd monitoring and management.
Q. What is the conclusion of this research?
Ans. Crowd monitoring and management being crucial for crowd safety; deriving valuable insights by rigorous statistical analysis of the crowd evacuation pattern provides effective guidance for proactive crowd monitoring and management. Such an analysis established in real-time scenarios would augment the quality of current crowd monitoring and management and equip related organizations and bodies to handle even more crowds than the existing ones by proactively reflecting and implementing the insights provided by the analysis.
Q. Any other research you have worked on?
Ans. Apart from the research mentioned above, I have worked on estimation of target location and identity in an aerospace scenario, domain-driven data mining for driving continual service improvement in an information technology infrastructure set up, and Arabic script recognition
Q. Please give tips for budding researchers/scientists.
Ans. Apart from all the strengths to flair in research, the most important thing one must possess is passion. Passion drives innovation. A researcher steps into research with the motivation of giving the world new definitions and unknown knowledge that should be coupled with the humbleness of being a student for a lifetime. Most importantly, one should be honest and maintain ethical standards towards whatever is researched. Above all, I personally recommend one to hold on to one’s belief in Almighty Creator.