უკან ხუთშაბათი | 31 მაისი, 2012
Counting Crowds & Crowds Counting | Jacobs' Method
During the last 25 years Georgian capital has experienced a diverse history of political meetings in its central areas including peaceful demonstrations, rallies with radical political demands, “tent towns” and so forth. The higher the attendance, the more legitimate the protests are often seen to be. As a result, the figures themselves usually are contested, sometimes in significant controversy.
This discussion has now been revived, after the new political coalition around Bidzina Ivanishvili started its full-scale entry into politics by gathering supporters on central Freedom Square of Tbilisi. Widely varying estimates of attendance numbers have been put forward. The Georgian police estimated the size of crowd as 30 000, supporters of Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream claimed that about 300 thousand people gathered on Freedom square, however, independent observers suggested 80 thousand attendees had come to the rally.
So how does one approach crowd size systematically, short of counting every single head in the crowd? One robust method has been suggested in the 1960s by Berkeley journalism professor Herbert Jacobs who employed this approach to count the number of protesters against Vietnam War at his home university. According to this method, the area should be divided into smaller sections in order to assess how loosely people stand in the crowd. If people stand at an arm’s distance, one person will cover 0.93 square meters. In a second case, when people stand close enough but not pushing each other, the area taken by one person is estimated 0.42 square meters. And finally, in a tightly packed crowd 0.23 square meters are covered by one person, or, putting it differently an estimated four people are in one square meter.
In order to describe how Jacobs’ method is used for crowd estimation, we divided the entire space of Freedom square and neighboring streets into 29 parcels. Then we calculated the areas of the parcels using geographic information systems (GIS) and tried to analyze two photo images taken from Georgian Dream’s official Facebook page. The photos show 13 parcels in the central and southern part of the square and consequently, estimates are done only for these areas.
The analysis is based on visual assessment of density in the parcels, following Jacobs' method. Where people are
- standing tightly we assigned the score 0.23,
- crowded but not pushing each other, we assigned the score 0.42
- standing in a distance of one person’s arm, we used the score of 0.93.
Now, several remarks on these numbers:
- Jacobs' approach only yields rough numbers, +/-20%.
- numbers work both ways, as various people have pointed out; it may be worth coming to some sort of consensus in Georgia how many people Freedom Square holds when it's crowded, and then apply that consistently.
- ultimately, quantity is not legitimacy; a protest that is conducted civilly and that gets people to engage and discuss is plenty legitimate, so the entire numbers game is a bit problematic, and not only in Georgia.
That being said, we think the Jacobs method is as good as it gets, for quick assessments. Since we only counted 13 parcels, out of 29, and want to make this method more broadly available, we encourage our readers to be involved! Crowds can help count crowds.
Use our raw materials to assess the number of attendees. Download the spreadsheet, use the robust Jacobs method, and send it back to us when you are done. Also, feel free to send your comments and estimations, the topic is open for discussion!
02.08.2015 | კვირა
Citizenship is a difficult concept to define as its definition changes over time, depending on social, legal, and political contexts. Importantly, it not only encompasses structural (legal and institutional) aspects, but also the everyday practices through which people relate to the state and other citizens. This blog post examines some of the perceptions as to what makes a good citizen across the South Caucasus and the extent to which people’s actions match up with their stated opinions on good citizenship.
06.02.2015 | პარასკევი
This blog post has shown that those that recently participated in public meetings or rallies, as well as more educated and wealthy Georgians perceive peaceful demonstrations as more efficacious in affecting government decision-making, compared to those who have not recently participated in meetings or rallies, are less educated and are poorer.
12.05.2016 | ხუთშაბათი
2012 წლის საპარლამენტო არჩევნების შემდეგ ძალაუფლების მშვიდობიანი გადაცემის პირველი პრეცენდენტის შედეგად საქართველოს პოზიცია Freedom House-ისა და Polity IV-ის რეიტინგებში გაუმჯობესდა. ამის მიუხედავად, ბოლო პერიოდში ჩატარებული გამოკითხვების შედეგები მოწმობს, რომ საქართველოს მოსახლეობის მხრიდან დემოკრატიის მხარდაჭერა მცირდება.
10.03.2014 | ორშაბათი
On December 30, 2013 Davit Usupashivili, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, declared that Georgia’s top priority for the year was the signing of an Association Agreement with the EU. If signed, the association agreement will enable closer ties between Georgia and the EU.
14.01.2015 | ოთხშაბათი Today, less than democratic regimes face a serious dilemma – how do you buy votes to win an election without becoming an international pariah. Unfortunately for a society and fortunately for an autocrat, the wheels of power and administrative resources an incumbent regime wields provide ample opportunity to manipulate electoral outcomes through what are otherwise legitimate activities related to state spending and coercion.
22.02.2013 | პარასკევი
The Georgian parliamentary elections in October 2012 attracted much international interest and ushered in an important turn in Georgian politics. In 2012 CRRC conducted four waves of a Survey on Political Attitudes in Georgia for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) (funded by the Swedish International development Cooperation Agency-SIDA) in order to track changes in public opinion associated with these major political events.
03.04.2014 | ხუთშაბათი Note: This blog is re-posted from the MYPLACE project's blog. The original MYPLACE blog can be found here.
Claims to 2000 or even 3000 years of nationhood are not difficult to find in Georgia as has been amply documented (see Pelkmans 2006, Suny 1994, Rayfield 2013). The former president Mikheil Saakashvili was even fond of using the earliest human skulls found outside of Africa, in Dmansi in Southern Georgia, as proof that Georgians were “ancient Europeans.”
16.06.2014 | ორშაბათი
Dustin Gilbreath, a Research Consultant at CRRC-Georgia, has written electoral notes on yesterday's municipal elections which were published on the web-magazine Liberali.The notes discuss the results of the elections, background and significance, changes to electoral legislation, the pre-electoral environment, capital candidates and campaigns, and outlook for the Georgian Dream Coalition and United National Movement. To read the electoral notes, please click here.
23.06.2014 | ორშაბათი
On June 15th Georgian voters headed to the polls in local elections. There were problems leading up to the elections as detailed in last week's electoral notes. At present, results show a significant portion of positions in local government going to Georgian Dream Coalition (GD) candidates, though a number of races will go into second rounds.
08.08.2016 | ორშაბათი Analysis of survey findings from the last few years, presented in the first part of this blog post, shows that public support for democracy is declining in Georgia. Since 2012, the share of the population who would prefer democracy over any other kind of government dropped from 68% to 47%. As public support for democracy is indispensable to democratic consolidation, it is important to know how and why support for democracy is changing. This blog post describes a number of tendencies that might be related to the declining public support for democracy in Georgia, using the CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data.
04.08.2014 | ორშაბათი
On July 28, 2014 charges were announced against the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili concerning the abuse of power. These charges make Saakashvili the highest public official from the former UNM government to be summoned by the prosecutor’s office to date.
22.09.2014 | ორშაბათი
Following 2012 parliamentary elections, attitudes toward Russia in Georgia shifted. While in 2011 51% of the population considered Russia the main enemy of the country, in 2012 only 35% reported the same. Moreover, the share of Georgians who named Russia as Georgia’s main friend increased by 5%. In a post on the CRRC-Georgia blog, this change was explained by a so-called “spiral of silence”.
13.11.2013 | ოთხშაბათი Ann Bennett Lockwood, an American attorney, politician and author once said that, “If nations could only depend upon fair and impartial judgments in a world court of law, they would abandon the senseless, savage practice of war”. For many, the credibility of a government is judged by the fairness of itsjudicial system. For instance, Michel Rosenfeld (2001) argued that a fair justice system creates respect and faith in government by saying that, “If a citizen implicitly or explicitly endorses a law or legal regime, the latter can be considered subjectively fair.”
12.01.2012 | ხუთშაბათი
In the wake of Russian protests for free and fair elections— one of the hallmarks of democracy— the international community has again turned its attention on democratization in the post-Soviet region. Democracy, in its various forms, represents something different to everyone. So what does it mean for Georgians? Do Georgians consider Georgia to be a democratic state in its present form? What are their perceptions of democracy?
15.02.2012 | ოთხშაბათი
Widespread apathy and a general disbelief that good can come from joint effort is a major factor hindering social capital in Georgia. One indicator of apathy can be fatalism, meaning the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. This blog explores the level of political fatalism in Georgia and how it is connected to Georgians’ perceptions of the country’s current political course and democracy.
19.03.2011 | შაბათი
How do multimedia phones affect the way media is consumed and circulated? Katy Pearce lays out interesting findings for the case of Armenia in the International Journal of Communication (5, 2011, pp. 511-528).
23.03.2011 | ოთხშაბათი
Can more available public information on Georgian governmental websites promote institutional trust and enhance faith in democracy in Georgia? This is the topic of a recent book called “Electronic Transparency in Georgia” by the Institute for Freedom of Information (IDFI).
21.06.2011 | სამშაბათი
A joint seminar on May 10th by Clingendael Institute and the Eurasian Partnership Foundation (EPF), and co-sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, debated the state of the rule of law and democracy in Georgia, and the possible application of a “Georgian model” in the wider region.
01.07.2011 | პარასკევი
In the spring of 2011, CRRC ran the Caucasus Barometer Report Writing competition and now we have an opportunity to present some of the results to you. The first report is written by one of the competition winners, Keti Khachidze, and addresses trust in the Georgian president. Here is a quick summary of her findings and analysis.
07.07.2011 | ხუთშაბათი
We have previously mentioned our participation in MyPlace, a collaborative research project covering 16 countries, and financed by the EU under Framework Program 7. Their website is now up! What is it all about? To quote from the MyPlace website:
25.01.2010 | ორშაბათი
What are the reasons for low public engagement in the South Caucasus? Why, despite the large number of non-government organizations, civil society remains weak in all three countries?
02.07.2010 | პარასკევი
Freedom House has just released its Nations in Transit report for the year 2010. The report attempts to quantify democratic development in Central European and Eurasian states by observing 8 separate factors – for instance, Electoral Process and National Democratic Governance - which affect the level of democracy in a given country. Each category is graded on a score of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress, and 7 representing the lowest. Much of the media attention has typically focused on Russia.
12.04.2012 | ხუთშაბათი In September 2011, CRRC on behalf of Eurasia Partnership Foundation and EWMI G-PAC conducted a nationally representative survey on Volunteerism and Civic Participation in Georgia. Georgians were asked how often they get together and discuss private problems and politics with their friends and relatives (who do not live in their houses).
01.02.2008 | პარასკევი
The alpha version of our Data Initiative data set, broad household data, covering lots of household data, but also political attitudes, social development, some health, education, migration, and social capital questions (and more) is online now. We interviewed more than 8000 people, so this really is the single largest dataset that is available on developments across the South Caucasus.
10.03.2008 | ორშაბათი
Admittedly we forgot to post this earlier, but we believe it is even more important with the upcoming elections in Georgia.
02.05.2008 | პარასკევი
Quite some time ago, Georgia has opened up the party archive of the Soviet period to researchers. This is a pretty unique resource for researchers. Georgia deserves particular praise for making that history accessible. Few countries of the CIS have made this important step.
03.05.2008 | შაბათი
21.05.2008 | ოთხშაბათი
With today's elections in Georgia, various themes come to mind. Certainly, elections have come a long way: by now, the Georgian government employs a series of highly qualified consultants, including Greenberg Quinlan Rosner of Clinton-fame, plus a Brussels-based PR firm, as well as working with experienced teams from the Baltics. This, then, is no longer the game of the 1990s, or 2003. Election observers know that they in turn will be observed, and maybe that's how it should be.
12.06.2008 | ხუთშაბათი
Yet another survey has been sent around as a PDF in Georgia. The survey attempted to measure the postelection mood in Tbilisi. According to the information provided in the PDF, 503 respondents have been selected randomly and interviewed by telephone. According to the results 46.92% of respondents say they "fully disagree with the announced results of the 2008 parliamentary elections". 25,65% say they totally agree with the announced results. We have been asked to comment, and some of the things we have to say will sound pretty obvious.
04.08.2008 | ორშაბათი
Women’s participation at all levels of elections in Georgia is diminishing. As the Caucasus Women’s Network (CWN)reports, women inGeorgia were less represented in terms of candidates in the last parliamentary elections than in any previous parliamentary elections inGeorgia’s democratic history. On the other hand, women’s low political participation in elected bodies belies women’s activeness in civil society institutions, where females appear to be very active.
05.09.2008 | პარასკევი
Georgian IPResearch (first time we heard of them, actually) conducted a phone poll between Aug.25 and Sept.2. 450 respondents were questioned countrywide. While we have our strong reservations about these telephone polls (they are biased towards people with phones, picking up calls from strangers, and bored enough to chat), they may serve as a preliminary indication.
18.12.2007 | სამშაბათი With the election in Georgia approaching fast, polls are beginning to appear every week. Unfortunately, many of these polls are taken at face value. The reality is that at this point there is not a single pre-election poll that has demonstrated credibility. This does not ...
20.10.2008 | ორშაბათი
What's the level of engagement in the three countries of the South Caucasus? Are people involved? Are they staying abreast of what goes on? Again, our Data Initiative provides insight, since we asked people whether they had engaged in various activities over the last six months
27.10.2008 | ორშაბათი
Yet another index, and one with little happy news. How does world press freedom look? Reporters Without Borders, an advocacy group founded in 1985 ("investigate, expose, support"), has just released an international ranking. A total of 173 countries are ranked, and the Caucasus is in the bottom third.
28.11.2008 | პარასკევი
What's the balance sheet of the Rose Revolution so far? There is agreement that there has been tremendous progress in some fields. The economy has grown, street-level corruption has evaporated, and in many other instances the state functions for the people.
05.12.2008 | პარასკევი
In June Freedom House released its 2008 annual Nations in Transit Report covering January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007. The Nations in Transit Report covers the democratic performance of the former Soviet Union, the former Soviet satellite states and the former Yugoslavia.
02.11.2006 | ხუთშაბათი
Nani Chkhaidze compared the 1990s election programs of parties that won the elections in the South Caucasus.
03.12.2007 | ორშაბათი With upcoming elections in Georgia, the attention is back on a theme that otherwise often gets neglected: what does the Georgian electorate want?
19.11.2007 | ორშაბათი With all the attention on Georgia, it may be interesting to revisit Georgia's most recent performance as seen by international organizations. As it happens, the Millennium Challenge Corporation offers a such an assessment through its annual scorecard, just released last week. This scorecard is a meta-index, drawing on data from the World Bank Institute, Freedom House, IFC, WHO, UNESCO and a few other organizations.