Simio Academic Program: Analysis and Simulation of Tourists Flow in Empire State Building

Organization: University of Pittsburgh

by K. Li and J. Cai
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The long queue to get to the 86th Floor Observatory is one of the most annoying things to customer. Visitors spend a lot of time on security checking, buying tickets, and taking the elevator to Observatory. In current system, the company owns five security checking machines, four ticket booths, and three elevators which can take 16 people at a time. In this project, we aim to make good use of these resources (cost control) and meanwhile decrease visitor’s waiting time, and define the bottlenecks. Meanwhile, the company adopts other ways to relieve visitor’s dissatisfaction when waiting in long queues, such as free photo service. Visitors can buy their photos later and the company can also make profit from it. Analysis will be made to find what benefit can got from this method.

The main objectives of the project are:

  1. Highlight the areas, which needed further fine-tuning to ensure visitor service quality. Find solutions to eliminate bottlenecks.
  2. Recommend good operation strategies to perform the system effectively on weekdays, weekends and holidays. Ensure the time visitor spend in queues is at an acceptable level.


Analysis of the system shows that the company basically is capable of serving the targeted number of visitors per day. During peak hours, dedication of tickets booths should be flexible. The bottleneck for the peak hour is the capacity of ticket servers. A new window should be opened to sell tickets during peak hour. However, this causes the congestion in elevator queue. Although this problem is not serious, we recommend the company prepare backup elevators in order to meet the need of higher visitor flow.

There is no need to open all of the security machines, tickets booths or elevator during the off-peak hours. The detail operation strategies for weekday and weekend are discussed in the passage before and confirmation runs was conduct. The results show these operation settings ensure the service quality and at the same time control the cost.

There are other recommendations that can be implemented to improve service. Photo service can be used during the peak hour on weekend or holiday. The advice price for each photo is 5 dollars. The company could consider training their security staff to perform more proficiently in order to short the security process time. The company could encourage visitors to purchase tickets on-line before their visit.

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