Crowd management is a vital factor that needs profound consideration. This is because even an event that has a small attendance has the likelihood of becoming crowded depending on the venue/area’s capacity where such an event is being held compared to the individuals expected to attend (Premier & Cabinet, 2011, Para 1). The concept of “Crowd management encompasses the operational planning and procedures employed to handle the process and facilitation of movement as it relates to crowd associated functions” (Avery & Soo, 2003, p. 35). An effective management of a crowd calls for a thorough crowd behavior understanding as well as a coordinated effort for planning safe environments for accommodating all types of audiences in any kind of event. Thus, management of a facility, event participants and promoters, law enforcement and government personnel must cooperate in assurance of safety and successful management of individuals (Avery & Soo, 2003, p. 35).
A crowd has various faces as well as different responses towards similar stimuli. It could be hard to imagine someone within a crowd who is intending to cause serious injury or kill another person in an event in which crowds assemble. Basically, in majority of the instances, it has been established that people offer assistance to others incase of trouble, serious impairment, or in case one requires medical attention. Various task forces have been formed to look into the safety of crowds and the public in events. Through their reports, it has been shown clearly at an increasing rate that the principle factor in assurance of a comfortable and safe environment for huge crowds is effective planning for such crowd’s management. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the concept of crowd management with focus being on a crowd management plan for an existing outdoor event; the event under study is a sporting event.
In planning of an event, it is important to come up with a fitting location depending on the type of event that is being carried out. Planning needs determination of a goal, visualization of a strategy for achievement of that goal, and development of a step by step process towards the achievement of the set goal (SEOH, 2005, p. 5). Location is agreed upon as per the requirements of the events and its goals. In selection of event’s date, there are some factors that should be put into consideration and they involve: the environmental conditions such as weather to avoid fixing the date during rainy seasons that may not favor the event; events should be free from national holidays to ensure there will be participants; and the availability of stakeholders in the event (SEOH, 2005, p.8). Tickets to facilitate participation should be produced according to the financial ability of the target participants. They should be sold in well known places and maximum publicity be given (SEOH, 2005, p. 9).
In a sports event, it is important to note that some individuals who happen to be highly familiar with an environment or venue, such as regularly occurring crowds during football matches, have a higher likelihood of conducting themselves in the event in ways they are used to or even follow same route every time they get to such events. Thus, it is important to ensure that during the event, there is effective use of multiple modes of monitoring the crowd to ensure that the crowd and its behavior are assessed effectively from multiple perspectives. This could call for such actions as inclusion of officers on such grounds, use of undercover officers within the crowd, roof-top spotters, stewards, helicopters, CCTV cameras, and also some commanders who oversee the event from a centre of command (Challenger, Clegg & Robinson, 2009, p. 21). In some situations, the crowd could be totally unfamiliar with the circumstances or surroundings of the event and thus they will behave differently, e.g., they may stop and start more frequently, rely heavily on stewarding and signage, and move more slowly. Thus, event managers should ensure that the venue have plenty signage that is highly visible, accurate and easily comprehensible (Challenger, Clegg & Robinson, 2009, p. 22).
Sporting events are always considered as a place of work for some individuals while others consider them as places for leisure activity. Events range from a family day in a local park to the music festivals events, carnivals, firework displays, sporting events, crusades, etc. It is important for crowd managers to ensure that the people participating in an event are not subjected to boredom and so there must be safe and recommendable forms of entertainment to eliminate the problem of monotony in case of breaks during the event (Lubbe, 2003, p. 55).
Attendance of the event should be determined by the kind of sporting event being done. It is possible to estimate the potential number of participants in such an event by considering the proportion of the public that follows subsequent events. For instance, it is possible to determine that events involving some sports teams in football command a large audience and this could help in planning process (Billboard, 2002, p. 19).
In events like this, there must be a promoter who acts as the broker between a facility and the organizers; the promoter is considered as a player of a key role in contracts’ preparation. The promoter secures a desired facility for use, prepares effective contracts between the organizers and facility, arranges for promotion of the event and sale of tickets, and also pays requirements for security. Overall organization of the event is done by promoters who get paid by organizers and they most often tend to work freely from facilities. Promoters have the responsibility of coordinating all an event’s aspects with the facility and officials from the government to ensure that the event is in compliance with the local laws of safety. The promoters in most cases come up with their own management plan for the event, list the responsibilities of their personnel and timetable of the event, and usually share such material with other parties during the event (Mccloud, 2010, p. 21).
Venues of a wide range can be effectively used in accommodating outdoor events. However, it is very important to consider some factors before settling on any venue. Such important factors that should be considered include: how the target group shall get to the venue; the planning issues involved in the desired venue; the arrangements needed in management of individuals outside the venue; the necessities of managing individuals inside the venue; the way in which the target people shall view the activities- concern should be whether they are to view them standing, sitting, or in a festival seating, or circulating from an activity to the other; the safe capacities in the venue- the whole venue or even for different sections; and whether a venue is already authorized for running the kind of event that is being organized (EMH, 2008, p. 9).
There is need to ensure that event organizers contact the relevant agencies and bodies during planning stages of an event. Any activity that entails a concentration of individuals gathering in a specific locality will automatically have some effects on the local infrastructure and thus it is considered common courtesy for the event organizers to inform the relevant agencies or authorities, and the local residents to avoid inconveniences during the event. The significance of this is that there may be need for the event organizer to get into a process of formal consultation with statutory agencies in the society (EMH, 2008, p. 7).
Entertainment events vary greatly in character, size, and other factors like risk and hazard. Naturally, organizers of complex or large events could require seeking of more specialist advice from elsewhere and this creates the need for formalizing such events. Through licensing of events like these, organizers find it easy to secure security from government agencies such as the police or other administrators and this helps in reducing the chances of occurrence of some emergency problems. Licensing makes an event so formal in such a way that the organizers feel their security and crowd management boosted in a great way (EMH, 2008, p. 10).
Entertainment events tend to produce so much noise and this could land the organizers of such events into problems with authorities due to noise pollution. Many agencies have put measures in place to curb noise pollution especially at night and in residential areas. Thus, it is important for event organizers to ensure that they secure a noise license allowing them to carry out their activities peacefully as failure could lead to distractions that could lead to confrontation between the participants and law enforcement agencies such as the police (Fahy & Walker, 2004, p. 184).
A large number of events happen nationally and cases of trouble and problems are rarely reported. However, new, unquestionably and also unexpected difficulties and hardships have been arising from time to time. For instance, in major cities, some officers of police have estimated, though informally, that around 1 to 2% of sporting events’ spectators carries handguns at any given time. There are some conditions, which can lead to problems in management of crowds and these include: the problems that are created from within a crowd; those that are as a result of a crowd external to the facility; rumor; and environmental catastrophe (Avery & Soo, 2003, p. 38).
In order to develop an effective plan for crowd management, there is need for the management of the facility to be aware of all the audience’s characteristics that is attracted by any particular event (Fahy & Walker, 2004, p. 184). When the facility operator, event promoter, and the police commander understand their crowd, it becomes a must and easier for them to plan accordingly. The facility management happens to have great influence on safety of the crowd as well as on the actions of entertainers and promoters. It does not matter how a contract is written between the promoter and a facility, but local management of the facility should accept and acknowledge its obligation regarding the community it serves’ safety. The management of the facility holds the key responsibility of assuring safe conditions that are in compliance with statutes that are applicable as well as of reasonable standards. Such a responsibility also calls for cooperative efforts with the law enforcement agents and also other event managers. However, such cooperation is not mean to relieve the management of the facility off its accountability in provision of resources for successful and safe events. Officials of law enforcement can of course take over control and direction in case of emergencies but this should not dilute the responsibility of the management for taking the necessary and reasonable steps for assurance that controllable emergencies do not happen in the course of the event (CD, 1997, Para 15).
In any sporting event, there is need for setting up an emergency room with sufficient space and equipment for handling large crowd incidents and routine accidents. To cater for an emergency in an effective way, it is important for maintenance of effective communication with the local providers of emergency medical services who should respond appropriately; and must have the ability of handling a disaster faced by a mass crowd appropriately (Fruin, 2002, p. 9).
In all major events, it is important to have readily available emergency medical as well as ambulance services to ensure that timely and effective treatment is easily available to the people who may need it. To assure such effectiveness, an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) should be developed and it could include such things as: inclusion of a section of medical emergency service in a plan for crowd management; there is need for public assembly areas for maintaining first aid rooms as well as setting up minimal standards for such rooms and the on-duty medical personnel; government authorities should adopt an effective ordinance for setting standards for the ambulance equipment and personnel; there is need for the location of such first aid rooms to be publicized to ensure event patrons know them; effective training should be offered to the medical personnel entrusted to offer emergency medical services in events (Fruin, 2002, p. 11).
Every event must have attendant risks; the initial step in management of such risks includes examination of all the areas of an event in order to determine the positions in which losses could occur. Such an examination should not be limited to the safety issues only but should ensure the event is safely conducted in the most possible way and if there occurs an unfortunate thing, the organization is not further impacted by the loss either through adverse publicity or financially. The examination could further assist in making decision regarding hiring of event crew or event/crowd managers (Worksafe, 2007, p. 3).
A crowd controller is an individual who is employed and retained with the principal aim being maintenance of order by ensuring that: behavior is effectively monitored and controlled; all attendants in an event are screened appropriately during entry to the venue; removing any individual; and also maintenance of order at a public place (Worksafe, 2007, p. 4). It is the responsibility of the facility owners to develop and communicate emergency evacuation plan. The empowerment of crowd controllers is agreed upon by the facility owners and the promoter (Worksafe, 2007, p. 25). Thus, the crowd controllers cannot do anything unless they are advised by their employers in public events.
This is the communication that occurs within the organization of event management and includes all the operations stakeholders. According to psychologists, a crowd could be likened to an intermeshing behavioral cells’ series in which each cell consists of a relatively small group of the surrounding people; who have limited communication between themselves. The cell members lack a broad view for the events taking place within a crowd. Thus, a dominant member of a cell can influence the cell’s collective behavior. This makes it possible for occurrence of communication in chains among chains of cells, often through spread of incorrect information and rumor, potentially inciting people into inappropriate behavior (Fruin, 2002, p.4).
This is communication occurring to the external of the organization or event scene. It includes the audience, attendees, guests, general public, delegates, and also the other external stakeholders. In a sporting event, focus is not only on the individuals in the venue but also those outside the venue. To ensure safety of those in the venues, there should be maintained a good communication with the law enforcement centers to ensure that there is a smooth flow of the event (Fruin, 2002, p.4).
In conclusion, this paper has established that considering crowd management is a key issue that should never be ignored. Any event can become crowded as this solely depends on a venue’s capacity in which an event is conducted. Thus, crowd management is required to both the small and large events especially in sporting events where turn out is sometimes predictable and many tragedies occur in them.
This paper recommends that event organizers should seek advice of the landowner or venue manager concerning its capacity. There is also need to clarify who is charged with the responsibility of counting patrons, to ensure protective measures are effectively taken. In addition, the paper has found out that there is need for full time emergency medical provision services in areas known to hold public events such as football stadiums to ensure that emergencies could be dealt with promptly.