APS tip sheet: Modeling supermarket traffic jams

December 18, 2019

December 9, 2019 - Studying how people get around cities and travel between countries helps scientists anticipate a population's needs. For example, forecasting commuter traffic can help engineers decide where to build a road. However, only a few studies have examined human mobility in smaller settings. New research analyzed the way people move in a smaller spaces by modeling customers' movement patterns through Tesco supermarkets. Fabian Ying and his colleagues compared different mobility models to determine which ones best forecast how consumers travel through stores. They then introduced a method to reduce congestion in grocery stores. This analysis often found that it could be helpful to place popular goods near the perimeter of a store. Understanding how customers move through stores adds to scientists' ability to forecast human mobility on any scale. It could also help retailers improve their customers' shopping experiences.
Customer Mobility and Congestion in Supermarkets, Fabian Ying, Alisdar O.G. Wallis, Mariano Beguerisse-Díaz, Mason A. Porter, and Sam D. Howison, mason@math.ucla.edu

American Physical Society

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