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Arup's use of MassMotion technology at Union Station

How do you simulate the movement of crowds without any people?

Testing the movement of masses with MassMotion technology.


When designing a public space, considering the safety of those who will pass through it is paramount. Being able to anticipate that footfall and human behaviour is crucial to a project’s planning process and later success as a practical development. Our MassMotion technology gives clients this important information about crowding, usage patterns and occupant safety in detailed 3D virtual models of buildings, well before they are built. As a result, informed decisions can be made to improve journeys of the future.

Using MassMotion to inform station evacuation

Erin Morrow, product director for MassMotion, explains how the technology works.

Experts and technology working together

Our MassMotion software provides a platform for decision-making and clear communication between project teams and multiple stakeholders. The graphics show the predicted movement of thousands of people, to highlight decisions or changes that need to be made early on in the project process.

MassMotion is not an answer machine, it’s a way of thinking about complex problems. It's only as good as the team delivering it.

Erin Morrow, Product Director for MassMotion

Erin Morrow points out that the technology provides a balance between efficiency and humanity. While the functionality of the building provides the framework, the experience of moving through it is at the heart of every decision. Through helping architects and planners make better predictions, MassMotion is helping designers to create public spaces such as airports, stadiums and stations be more enjoyable places for those who move through them. As an example, the software could highlight where barriers need to put in place at a festival to prevent bottlenecks, or where escalators should be placed at a train station to minimise overcrowding on a platform.

The particular benefits of MassMotion are clear from its use across many global projects including The Fulton Center station in New York City and Dubai International Airport, but particularly during the complex planning process and design of Union Street Station in Toronto. According to Project Director Andrew McAlpine, the technology allowed us to show the client how the planned reshaping of the station could be affected by multiple scenarios from construction phasing to train service disruptions.

Thinking about these possible situations enables project components to remain flexible throughout the planning and development processes, while station functions and passenger movements can be maintained.

A platform for solutions

MassMotion is intuitive, accurate and fast, allowing the predicted movement of thousands of people to test a space and flag potential problems in a visual way. Thanks to its predictive power, our specialists have the tools they need to make crucial decisions with minimum cost and disruption to projects. Spaces and places are improved thanks to the forecasting of footsteps, helping to create more efficient public spaces of the future.

Erin Morrow

Erin Morrow

MassMotion Product Director - Erin Morrow is the product director for Massmotion. Having joined Arup in 2000, he has over ten years’ experience in analysing and predicting pedestrian behaviour in large-scale transport systems.

Eric Rivers

Eric Rivers

Pedestrian Focused Infrastructure Expert - Eric Rivers is experienced in the planning, design and analysis of pedestrian focused infrastructure. His specialty is in understanding how pedestrian demands and movement patterns, building layouts and operations interact to impact the performance and design of a space.

Paul Stanley

Paul Stanley

Infrastrucuture Projects Advisor - Paul Stanley is a strategic advisor in infrastructure projects requiring pedestrian movement assessment. His work spans across many disciplines but his major focus is on sustainable transport.

Andrew McAlpine

Andrew McAlpine

Union Station Project Director - Andrew McAlpine leads Arup’s Toronto office and was the Project Director for the Union Station pedestrian planning project. As an architect, he has experience of a diverse range of architectural and urban design projects in the UK, Australia, and Canada. He has particular expertise in transportation projects including high volume airport terminals and rail interchanges.