# How Do the Media and Police Estimate Crowd Sizes? | Summary and Q&A

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August 8, 2019
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Today I Found Out
How Do the Media and Police Estimate Crowd Sizes?

## TL;DR

The Jacobs' Method is a simple and accurate way to estimate crowd sizes, based on grid patterns and the amount of space each person occupies.

## Key Insights

• â The Jacobs' Method, invented by Herbert Jacobs, is a simple and reliable technique for estimating crowd sizes.
• đĻģ Technology advancements, such as Google Earth, have made it easier to determine the size and area of a location, aiding in crowd size estimation.
• đ The National Parks Service faced controversy and a ban on estimating crowd sizes publicly after providing a lower estimate for the Million Man March.
• đŽ Researchers have found that police estimates of crowd sizes tend to be more accurate than those of event organizers.

## Transcript

Keith H. asks: When the police and media report crowd sizes of a parade or something, what do they base their numbers on? Although the task of determining how many people attend something as large as say, a political rally or a protest may seem like a daunting, almost impossible undertaking to do with any accuracy, with some basic information, it's... Read More

### Q: How does the Jacobs' Method work to estimate crowd sizes?

The Jacobs' Method involves counting the number of people in each grid of a repeating pattern to determine crowd density and estimate the total number of people present.

### Q: Why is crowd density important in estimating crowd sizes?

Crowd density helps determine the amount of space each person occupies, allowing for a more accurate estimation of the total number of people in a crowd.

### Q: What is the maximum density a crowd can safely reach?

The maximum density of a crowd is approximately 2.5 square feet per person, beyond which it becomes unsafe and poses a risk of trampling or injuries.

### Q: Why do event organizers sometimes overstate crowd sizes?

Event organizers may have incentives to overstate crowd sizes for publicity or to create a larger impact. The media may also participate in exaggerating crowd sizes for sensationalism.

## Summary & Key Takeaways

• The Jacobs' Method, created by Herbert Jacobs, is a reliable way to estimate crowd sizes by counting the number of people in each grid of a repeating pattern.

• Crowd density determines the amount of space each person occupies, with the most densely packed crowds taking up 2.5 square feet per person.

• Modern technology, such as Google Earth and media coverage, makes it easier to accurately estimate crowd sizes.