Ants Are Polite And May Help Improve Human Crowd Control

Add this to the long list of the hardworking ants' virtues: they're polite.

Burd, an evolutionary ecologist, says preliminary research into this introduced species of ant backs the 'slower is faster' paradox of crowd behaviour.

"If the average speed of each individual moving is slower, the whole crowd is evacuated faster, and ants are actually doing this," he says.

"Ants in a panic don't behave the same way as humans. They stay calm and are polite to each other. They are not trying to save their own lives, but are behaving for the good of the group."

Prof. Burd is now trying to apply what he learned about ant's crowd control technique into building design to help improve evacuation in cases of emergency:

"Perversely if you simply put a pillar in front of the doorway you increase the evacuation speed," he says.

"Having that obstruction stops people jamming against other people in the doorway."


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But in many instances, it's impossible to make the egress larger or to add more of them in existing buildings.

The study is important in which it suggests that placing a barrier has the paradoxial effect of making the whole evacuation rate faster.
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@ Jenny
I'm pretty sure that maximising the number of people who can escape from a building makes plenty of sense to the designers/ engineers.
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The article conveniently fails to mention that worker ants can't reproduce, and thus have no concern for their own life. Instead, they work for the colony and most notably the queen, who can reproduce.

Humans are individualistic, and thus maximizing the number of people who get out of a building doesn't make sense; getting the hell out yourself does.
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The pillar doesn't block off the doorway entirely (I would think that should be obvious). This makes sense if you think about it.

Unfortunately, I think humans have more in common with cows than with ants. We tend to stampede when we're spooked (despite our supposedly superior brains).
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