How do you manage two million citizens during the Pope’s visit to Colombia?

Pope Francis greeting the crowds in his Popemobile

Pope Francis greeting the crowds in his Popemobile. Image source: Pixabay

It has been 31 years since a pope visited Colombia. Each visit symbolises unity, and this time, Pope Francis wants to promote peace. The five-day trip from 6 – 11 September draws between two to three million citizens from around the country to the capital city of Bogotá. At least 800,000 tourists will arrive in the city, of which approximately 23,000 will be pilgrims of other nationalities, and the rest of other parts of Colombia from regions such as Tolima, Boyacá and Huila.

With over 300,000 extra cars coming into the city to witness the ceremony, the local government are directing via TV, radio, and social media appropriate plans to help people to keep moving efficiently during the Pope’s visit. These plans aren’t accidental – thanks to years of cooperation, high profile-events and utilising pedestrian data to simulate and model the movement of crowds during the visit and find the best plans that can be deployed on the streets.

The Pope’s Tour

The Supreme Pontiff will arrive at the capital and is expected to make a tour of the 26th Street which links the historic heart of the city, La Candelaria, to Bogotá´s major cemetery, University and Airport on board the Popemobile. Citizens who want to see it closely can settle along this important avenue. The presence of between 400,000 and 600,000 people is expected during this tour. There will also be several closures. On September 6, when His Holiness arrives in the city, a closure will be made on 26th Street, and there will be no cars or public transportation allowed during this time.

The Big Plan

Due to the number of vehicles that will enter the city and the large mass conglomerations at the points where the hierarch of the Catholic Church will pass, the Mayor of Bogotá through its Secretary of Mobility will carry out different controls and changes in mobility.

The Secretary of Mobility of the City, Juan Pablo Bocarejo created a simulation using microscopic simulation software PTV Vissim and PTV Viswalk. They modelled and designed the pedestrian routes and access control policies for private and public vehicles to make sure people’s experience during the visit will be as efficient as possible.

When all the accessibility strategies were tested and the best selected, the simulation videos were sent to media outlets so it can be communicated to the public. The below video is the completed simulation video used by major news channels in Colombia to be broadcasted to millions of audiences nationwide.

About PTV Vissim

PTV Vissim can simulate exact traffic patterns to help identify and mitigate traffic congestion across the entire transport system. All road users are visually represented and their interactions with each other simulated to provide a realistic behavioural model which is supported with 3D visualisation. Whether public authorities, consulting or research – worldwide, PTV Vissim is used by more than 16,000 users for microscopic traffic simulation. Dedicated motion models for motorised transport, bicycles and pedestrians make a detailed and accurate assessment of all traffic-related aspects possible.

About PTV Viswalk

PTV Viswalk simulates the movement and interaction of pedestrians in any environment. All elements of a pedestrian environment can be represented meaning it is particularly well-suited for urban and construction planning, pedestrian safety planning, evacuation measures and significant events such as music concerts and sporting events. Applying the social force model allows pedestrians to move depending on the influences of other pedestrians or the environment around them to gain a highly accurate representation of real world pedestrian flow. When combined with PTV Vissim a full multimodal simulation platform is created allowing the interactions of pedestrians and motorised vehicles within integrated transport applications to smooth the movement of pedestrians.


PTV GROUP recognises the scientific and meticulous work that the “Secretaría Distrital de Movilidad” throughout the modelling team of the “Centro de Gestión de la Movilidad”, is doing to improve the mobility of Bogotá using the state-of-the-art technology available.


This post is also available in: German