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 the 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 mean 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 understand better, 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 of 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 more comfortable 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 dispatch 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 the staff is needed, enabling them to re-arrange or deploy more personnel 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 high turnout of attendees come great responsibility. With a live and full overview of the event, managers can quickly raise the alarm in the event of an emergency, liaise with authorities, and efficiently 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 place 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, favouring 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 an 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.
The use of crowd-sourced data and data mining, for optimising pedestrian flow in and around events, has already been trialled 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
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Lars Erik Flatner
Head of ICT Portfolio at Avinor.
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Head of Capacity & Performance at Birmingham International Airport
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Operations Director at Bristol Airport
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Director of Ground Transportation at San Diego International Airport.
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Guðmundur Karl Gautason
Manager - Operation research at Isavia
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Head of Operational and Business Analysis at Copenhagen Airports
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Technology Projects Manager at Dublin Airport
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Martijn Van Boxtel
Operational Manager Terminal Logistics at Schiphol Group