• During the second day of demonstration against the pension reform on January 31, 55,000 people marched in Paris, according to the cabinet Occurrence.

  • The figure was mocked on social networks and seems very low, compared to the 500,000 demonstrators put forward by the trade unions or the 87,000 people identified by the Paris police headquarters.

  • The Occurrence firm explains its device to

    20 Minutes


55,000 demonstrators in Paris against the pension reform.

The figure was mocked on social media.

“A 10-year-old child would be able to count a demonstration better than that,” mocks a surfer in a tweet shared more than 500 times.

During the second day of demonstrations against the bill aimed at raising the legal age of departure to 64, 55,000 people marched in Paris on January 31, according to Occurrence.

The communications research and consulting firm is tasked by several media with counting the demonstrators, in particular for AFP,




Le Monde


FranceTV, RadioFrance, CNews, BFM TV.

We counted 55,000 people today in Paris, counting the two routes of the Parisian demonstration.

We are obviously open to discussing our method in the event of any questions, without trolling or invective.


— Occurrence (@enlOccurrence) January 31, 2023

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The figure seems very low, compared to those released by the trade unions, for which there were 500,000 demonstrators or for the Paris police headquarters, which counted 87,000 people.

“I am asked a lot to explain the discrepancy with the other figures, notes Assaël Adary, president of Occurrence, with

20 Minutes


I don't know how to do it, I can only explain my figure, which is based on a scientific method.

Contacted, the CGT did not wish to speak on the subject.

“Technology with artificial intelligence”

What method does Occurrence use?

On the main route, between Place d'Italie and Place Vauban, three people were responsible for counting the demonstrators, using two sensors, from the fifth floor of the Hotel Raspail, at 203 Boulevard Raspail.

On the secondary course, the device was lighter with two people, a video recording and a recount as and when from the hotel Villa Montparnasse, 2 rue Boulard, which is on the corner with rue Froidevaux and offers an unobstructed view on the latter.

"This sensor is a technology that creates a field with artificial intelligence, which knows how to cut out people by analyzing the images by contrast effects between people and the ground, which will be of a fixed color, explains Assaël. Adary.

It's like a finish line and everyone who crosses this virtual line is identified and counted.

This sensor is designed by a French company, Eurecam, specializing in smart metering and whose technologies are used to organize flows in airports or secure museums and industrial sites.

Human micro counts

On the main route, the Occurrence team remained positioned for almost three hours, between 3:26 p.m., the start of the passage of the procession and 6:17 p.m., its end, according to the cabinet document that we were able to consult. 

Every 10 seconds, the sensor counts people, this figure is then rectified thanks to human microcounts.

“We are going to count 12, 13, 14 times small sequences of 30 seconds to check that our sensor counts well, that it does not undercount or overcount, when the procession becomes denser, and we will correct it throughout throughout the event", explains the president of Occurrence, who wishes to underline the reliability of the sensor in sparse periods.

In total, the gross figure provided by the sensor is 42,218 demonstrators in the main procession, straightened and rounded to 50,000 people, to which are added 4,600 demonstrators in the secondary procession, rounded to 5,000.

This is how the cabinet Occurrence reaches the number of 55,000 demonstrators in Paris on January 31.

A debate on counting in demonstrations

“We recounted today (February 1) from the video the secondary course and we arrive at 6,500 people instead of 5,000, adds Assaël Adary.

We are in the process of recounting the main course by hand, but it is longer and the figures will come later.

From these data, could we rather talk about “at least 55,000 people”?

Because, in demonstration, the sidewalks can be occupied, some demonstrate on only part of the route, flow back in the event of incidents, etc.

"At least 55,000 demonstrators, that can be a lead," he admits.

Others suggest a range, but what bothers me is that I don't know their method, I don't know how the unions arrive at 500,000.

And I really object when we put the three on the same methodological footing.

These figures are not on the same level of truth, ”he argues, pleading for an open and transparent debate on the counts in demonstrations.


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