There’s nothing quite like a large public event, such as a football match or a concert, to draw thousands of people into one place. Of course, the more people you put in one place, the more uncertainty and unpredictability you have on your hands. 

Managing crowd safety is of paramount importance. Imagine a scenario where the press of bodies leads to risks of physical safety, or where the sudden influx of people causes miles of traffic congestion around the event. Whether it’s a sporting event, a festival, or a concert, organisers must keep the attendee’s journey on track and keep vehicle and foot traffic flowing smoothly to, from, and around the venue, to ensure the best possible safety.

Historically, this kind of management has been a combination of sifting through masses of historical data manually and making educated guesses and predictions. Fortunately, advances in crowd-management technologies means that event organisers can now make better decisions, based on accurate, real-time information gathered from on-the-ground live measurements and data analysis solutions. 

It helps managers get the full overview of their operation, to better understand, plan, optimise and improve the movement of people and traffic in and around an event. 

Here are some tips:

1. Plan, plan and plan 

Benjamin Franklin is often credited with the saying: “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning ahead and taking all necessary precautions is a critical piece in the puzzle when it comes to preventing accidents and alleviating harmful situations. Nowadays many event managers rely on manual spreadsheets with generic inputs to forecast capacity and plan staffing resources, without taking unexpected events, such as changes in road traffic, transportation delays, weather changes or other operational obstacles into account. This is a thing of the past; the future is here with intelligent crowd management solutions, and it will now be even easier for managers to plan ahead. 

2. Manage traffic the easy way

If you’ve ever been stuck in a traffic jam caused by a major event, you will know why it is necessary to manage the extra traffic before and after the event. By combining real-time measurements, using technology, with tools such as event calendars, ticketing systems and public transportation systems, road networks can be proactively managed. Operators can initiate countermeasures, such as adjusting traffic light settings or dispatching traffic regulators, to reduce traffic build-up. 

3. Live queue and travel times ease people minds.

Drivers and attendees, in and around the event, can be informed about live travel and queue times, delays, and alternative routes on electronic signage and mobile applications. This helps them to make informed decisions and minimise frustration. 

4. Manage both staffing and attendees 

Managers can see, minute by minute, where staff is needed, enabling them to re-arrange or deploy more staff to entries/exits, food stalls, restrooms and more. Furthermore, attendees can be evenly distributed through way-finding and steward assistance to minimise bottlenecks.

5. Be prepared

“With great power, comes great responsibility.” Or, to put it another way, with a great turnout of attendees comes a great amount of responsibility. With a live and full overview of the event, managers can quickly raise an alarm in the event of an emergency, liaise with authorities, and effectively control an evacuation, if necessary.

6. To the stalls, my friend

Vendors and events don’t make money from people stuck in interminable lines. With a well-distributed flow of people, waiting times will ultimately drop, and increase chances for maximised revenue at food stalls, bars and other vendors at the event. 

7. Post-event – what now?  

After an event, people will typically rush to get home, creating hazardous bottlenecks and long waits. To help keep people calm, wait times from the venue parking lot exits can also be displayed on screens in the venue and on apps. This will again help people to make informed decisions, resulting in a more evenly distributed flow of people, allowing the venue to be emptied more safely and smoothly. 

9. Coming home faster and more safely!

Immediately after the event, intelligent traffic management can be initiated with traffic regulators and traffic signalling, favoring pedestrians and public transportation, allowing the traffic to flow smoothly as well. 

10. The ultimate evaluation 

Not only can such solutions provide live data at the event, but all the collected data can be used to evaluate the overall performance and operation. Understanding the crowd dynamics and the use of models to replicate crowd flow is a valuable method for assessing how future events should operate.

It provides event managers with a cohesive picture of the attendee’s experiences, from the moment they arrive, to exiting, and everywhere in between. By combing historical data with third-party data, such as the number of attendees and demographics, event significance and duration, performance quality and more, managers can gain in-depth understanding of the impacts in future events. 

Ultimately, attendees will enjoy a better and safer experience, while organisers and venue management keep legal issues at bay.

Use cases

The use of crowd-sourced data and data mining, for optimising pedestrian flow in and around events, has already been trialed and used in several cases, including:

• Parken Football Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark

• ICC Cricket World Cup, New Zealand

• FIFA U20 World Cup, New Zealand

• Tall Ships Races, Aalborg, Denmark

• Asia-Pacific Ironman, Melbourne, Australia

“Avinor has been working closely with BLIP Systems since 2009. We value the long-term cooperation and their professional approach in providing us with technology and data to ensure efficient operations and passenger satisfaction.”

Lars Erik Flatner

Head of ICT Portfolio at Avinor.

“It´s been an excellent project with great support from the design, installation and technical team. The BLIP Systems´ team are a credit to the organisation and have helped the airport immensely, with data analysis and reporting.”

Chris Wilson

Head of Terminal Operations at Birmingham International Airport

“We had very high expectations prior to the introduction of the system, and I am very happy to say that the outcome has proved very successful. The system has capabilities of further enhancements which will provide other long term solutions in the future.”

Paul Davies

Operations Director at Bristol Airport

“With BlipTrack we are able to keep our passengers fully informed24/7 – both in the terminal and online – about what to expect at security. At peak times, up to 3,000 passengers an hour travel through security and our aim is to make that experience as smooth as possible whilst ensuring safety – BLIP Systems helps us do that.”

Adrian Witherow

Chief Operating Officer at Edinburgh Airport

“BlipTrack has helped identify time periods where passenger wait times exceed 10 minutes, thereby allowing us to assess schedule deficiencies and taxi dispatches. The data has greatly helped improve the customer experience by providing us the ability to schedule taxis to be available when needed.”

David J. Boenitz

Director of Ground Transportation at San Diego International Airport.

“We use BlipTrack to see when levels of service are breached and locate the reasons. It help us to identify work shift problems and to make more informed decisions.”

Guðmundur Karl Gautason

Manager – Operation Research at Keflavik Airport.

“BlipTrack allow us to gain a good understanding of check-point dynamics, and most importantly, our customers benefit directly by getting a better service.”

Anita Filli

Project Manager Landside Operations at Genève Aéroport

“BlipTrack provides us with valuable real-time insights about passenger queue time dynamics. It helps our managers to secure low queue times at minimum cost, and also provides our Analysis Department with direct feedback on their forecasting performance.” Read more.

Esben Kolind

Head of Operational and Business Analysis at Copenhagen Airports

“BlipTrack has helped us to resource our operations on the day, and to identify pinch points and potential build ups. The very accurate data is used by our staff to monitor operations, and has enabled us to provide an optimum passenger experience by displaying accurate queue wait times.”

John Seely

Technology Projects Manager at Dublin Airport Operations

“BLIP Systems provides us with valuable insights in passenger processes. The insights are used to continuously improve our performance together with our stakeholders. BLIP Systems has proved to be a reliable partner, with a clear understanding of our needs.”

Martijn Van Boxtel

Operational Manager Terminal Logistics at Schiphol Group