Using Lidar to Examine Human Occupancy and Collisions within a Shared Indoor Environment

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Virginia Tech


Indoor spaces, where we spend the majority of our lives, greatly impact our work, social interactions, and well-being. In recognition of the central role that buildings play in our lives, architects and designers have increasingly focused on creating spaces that intentionally promote interaction and collaboration between building occupants. One challenge arising from this trend is evaluating the efficacy of new designs. This study used object tracking data for the Fall 2023 semester from a collection of lidar sensors installed in a portion of a mixed-use academic building on a university campus to algorithmically detect occupancy and serendipitous collisions between people - patterns of simultaneous movement and pause that indicate that two or more individuals have stopped and had a meaningful interaction. The algorithm detected over 14,000 collisions throughout the semester with high spatial and temporal precision. Occupancy and collisions were highly related over several scales of temporal and spatial analysis. Furthermore, several interesting patterns emerged, including (a) collisions peaked early in the semester, then declined before leveling off, (b) occupancy peaked in mid-afternoon, while collisions peaked in the late afternoon and early evening, (c) collisions peaked later in the week than did occupancy, and (d) specific hotspots were apparent at important nodes such as the bottom of stairs and near elevators. The patterns found in this study can provide insight as to how interactions can be measured using remote sensing data, and can aid designers in attempting to increase collaboration in shared indoor environments.



indoor geography, lidar, remote sensing, placemaking, interaction