Research to Update Anthropometric Data and Movement Speeds


Award Amount: up to $40,000 (USD)
Open to All
Timeline: 6 months from project initiation
Project Contact: SFPE Foundation Liaison – Victoria Valentine
Document Download: PDF
General Q&A

General Description
The SFPE Educational and Scientific Foundation (the “Foundation”) is supporting a research grant with a view to modernizing the available data to support egress analysis. Human behavior and egress have been identified by the Foundation as a target area needing further research. For this Project, it is desired to expand current knowledge addressing the movement of large populations with and without emergency conditions.

It is recognized that the world population is increasing and buildings are expanding in size and complexity with urban densification. When an evacuation is needed, whether due to fire, natural disasters, or other events, the building egress systems must be designed to efficiently allow people to move from their initial position to a location of safety. The formulas and calculation methods that are commonly used to predict movement speeds are based on older data primarily for people in major metropolitan areas in the northeastern part of North America.

It is anticipated that many members already have unpublished data that that could be studied to better inform the profession. Examples of data would be video capture of large assembly applications such as stadiums, arenas, airports, transit facilities, passenger terminals, concert halls etc.

Output from Research
Given the increasing age of the average population today and considerations for potentially changing anthropometry of the human form, the successful candidate or team will consolidate data and/or supplement research and literature information to achieve some or all of the desirably outputs. These include:
  1. Variations in human anthropometry considering height, weight and form and geographical differences by appropriate population center and compared with legacy knowledge as summarized in the SFPE Handbook.
  2. Establishing population density, movement speeds and flow rates for
  3. The work should be completed for general populations moving in the upward and downward directions, and considerations for special occupancies where handbags or luggage may be a factor.

  4. Considerations for variability in speeds as a function of different population distributions, addressing age and mobility limitations and modern considerations such as walking with cell phones.
  5. New, expanded or confirmation of approaches to establishing population distributions (e.g. by age, movement restriction etc.) appropriate for egress analysis in different building types/uses/occupancies.
  6. It is preferable to see output in the form of Tables and compared with legacy data, and summarized in a manner that it can readily be extracted into SFPE publications such as the SFPE Handbook and other SFPE guides and standards, as well as in a context that could be used for egress model calibration or verification.


  1. Interim Project Update at 3 months from project initiation in the form of an online presentation and verbal summary.
  2. Presentation of findings in a report, accompanied with a PowerPoint presentation on SFPE template for inclusion in a future database of SFPE materials. The report should be sufficiently detailed to substantiate all findings and make recommendation for additional research initiatives.

If accepted, presentation of findings at a future SFPE Conference.

Intellectual Property
The SFPE Foundation will retain rights to the project report which will be published on the Foundation website and/or the SFPE website.

How to Respond & Award
Proponents should submit a maximum 6-page letter proposal (not including attachments) outlining:

  1. Qualifications and past experience of team studying human behaviour and people movement.
  2. Defined work program on data acquisition and quantification,
  3. Research methodology,
  4. Value of output and application to FPE industry needs (e.g. egress analysis, simulations, crowd management).
  5. Requested award amount.

Direct inquiries to Victoria Valentine. Responses for queries received up to May 3, 2019 will be posted below.

The submission must be received by 5 PM Eastern Time on May 10, 2019 and delivered in PDF format to Victoria Valentine.

The award of up to USD $40,000 will be ranked equally based on the five points above and determined by the SFPE Foundation Board of Governors based on greatest inclusion of the above data, outputs, quality of the research program and qualifications of the submitting members.

The award will proceed only on receipt of a proposal deemed acceptable to the Foundation. The Foundation reserves the right to negotiate with one or multiple parties and may subdivide the project and funding.

Questions and Answers:
1. Could you provide some examples of what would be considered acceptable/expected attachments to the 6-page letter proposal?

The reviewers will rely primarily on the content of the six-page submission, which is expected to embody the essential proposal information for the reviewers to evaluate. Supplementary information as attachments is open to include, as examples: resumes of participants, more detailed budgets, firm/organizational profiles, past examples of similar project work.

2. Is it necessary to have/develop the requested models through analysis of actual evacuation videos? Can data from computer simulations be used?

The proposal anticipates evaluation of actual or experimental data. Analysis or study based on simulated or theoretical data is not a primary output of this project. 

3. What is the project initiation date?

An exact date has not been determined. However, it is anticipated to be 4-6 weeks after the closing date for the RFP submittals.

4. Would you expect the report to analyze and correlate existing data in the literature or primary research? Given the short timeline, the latter may be difficult.

This proposal anticipates evaluation of actual or experimental data. Analysis or correlation of existing data is not the desired focus of this project.

5. Is unpublished data that is not peer reviewed acceptable?

Please refer to the third paragraph under General Description in the RFP above.

6. Can the data reported as part of the RFP be published in an open manner?

The Foundation anticipates providing open-source access to the accepted report on its website. Reproduction of the accepted product or parts thereof on your website is acceptable to the Foundation.

7. Is it necessary that the lead submitter be an SFPE member?

There are no mandatory requirements for membership of SFPE on the part of the submitters for this proposal.

8. The proposal describes complex real-life scenarios, are smaller experiments also of interest?

The RFP call used more complex scenarios as examples. This does not preclude the potential relevance of smaller-scale data but is indicative of real-world applications where the data may be used.

9. Is it possible to move the schedule in order to begin in November of 2019?

A change to the project deadline is not a consideration at this time.