Last weekend’s march in Amsterdam against corona measures, under the heading ‘Together for the Netherlands’, resulted in a lot of discussion afterwards. Not only about who walked along and about the use by demonstrators of Prince flags and Jewish stars, but also about how many people were actually present.
The municipality spoke of more than 20,000 demonstrators, but on social media there were claims that there were ten times as many. The organization does not want to go that far. He estimates that there were 50,000 to 100,000 people, but that is still a big difference with the police and municipality count.
It is difficult to estimate how many people are present at a demonstration, says Otto Adang, lecturer in Public Order & Hazard Management at the Police Academy: “Who exactly is a participant and who is watching from the side? It is also dynamic. People come and go. .” Things get even more complicated when it comes to a demonstration in which people walk a route.
However, there are methods to make a reasonable estimate, the police say. Basically, we look at the surface on which people stand and what the density of the crowd is: how many people are there per square metre?
The police calculate this with public tools such as mapchecking.com. An area can then be drawn on the basis of Google Maps and the number of people per square meter can be calculated.
Poles, trash cans and benches
The Dam is approximately 14,000 square meters, says police spokesman Rob van der Veen. “If there had been 200,000 people there, there would have been eight more layers of people on the shoulders of the lower protesters.”
The 14,000 meters is the gross area. “Of course it can’t be completely full,” says Adang. “There are obstacles, such as poles, trash cans and benches.” In addition, not the entire Dam was available. A stage was built for the Concertgebouw Orchestra. There were also people on the Damrak, the street that opens onto Dam Square.
The second factor, the density of the crowds, is estimated in different ways, says Van der Veen: “There are people in the command center who look at camera images. But we also have officers on the street that we ask to make an estimate.” Normally, drones are also used, but they were not available because of the grand prix in Zandvoort.
View images of the demonstration here:
This is how the police estimate how many people come to a demonstration
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