Airborne Crowd Density Estimation
Keywords: Crowd detection, Aerial imagery, Gabor filters, Texture features
Abstract. This paper proposes a new method for estimating human crowd densities from aerial imagery. Applications benefiting from an accurate crowd monitoring system are mainly found in the security sector. Normally crowd density estimation is done through in-situ camera systems mounted on high locations although this is not appropriate in case of very large crowds with thousands of people. Using airborne camera systems in these scenarios is a new research topic. Our method uses a preliminary filtering of the whole image space by suitable and fast interest point detection resulting in a number of image regions, possibly containing human crowds. Validation of these candidates is done by transforming the corresponding image patches into a low-dimensional and discriminative feature space and classifying the results using a support vector machine (SVM). The feature space is spanned by texture features computed by applying a Gabor filter bank with varying scale and orientation to the image patches. For evaluation, we use 5 different image datasets acquired by the 3K+ aerial camera system of the German Aerospace Center during real mass events like concerts or football games. To evaluate the robustness and generality of our method, these datasets are taken from different flight heights between 800 m and 1500 m above ground (keeping a fixed focal length) and varying daylight and shadow conditions. The results of our crowd density estimation are evaluated against a reference data set obtained by manually labeling tens of thousands individual persons in the corresponding datasets and show that our method is able to estimate human crowd densities in challenging realistic scenarios.