Crowd management is a crucial issue during large public gatherings, such as sports or music events, where thousands of people gather to participate in a show or celebration. Tragic incidents can occur if organizers are not able to properly manage the crowd, particularly in cases of panic or emergency movements. That’s why it’s essential to have a risk management and hazard prevention strategy for the public. Experts from 3SA CONSEIL are there to support organizers and help train their teams on crowd management techniques, to ensure a safe and secure environment for all participants.
Looking back on notable events where crowd management was deficient
Crowd management is a critical issue that concerns all types of public events. Tragic incidents such as the death of 96 supporters at the 1989 football match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest, the Love Parade tragedy in Duisburg in 2010 that cost the lives of 21 people, and the 2015 crowd movement at the holy site of Islam which led to the deaths of approximately 2,300 worshippers are all evidence that crowd safety is paramount. The number of people and density are two key factors to consider when managing crowds. Researchers, such as Mehdi Moussaïd, have long studied crowd behavior and provide essential advice for surviving crowd movement situations.
The mechanisms leading to dramatic situations related to crowd management
Examples of the Love Parade, the Hillsborough disaster, and the stampede in Mecca illustrate the mechanisms that can lead to dramatic situations in crowd management. In these three cases, the combination of the number of people and crowd density played a central role in the tragic consequences. At the Love Parade, the single point of access and exit to the site created overcrowding in the tunnel leading to the site, which resulted in deaths. At Hillsborough, the opening of a gate led to a rush of people , with the crowd density and presence of barriers preventing any escape. Finally, in Mecca, the crowd density reached such a level that any movement could have tragic consequences. It is therefore essential to take these factors into account to avoid crowd management-related disasters.
Crowd management is the only response to this problem
The iSSUE competence center in Switzerland brings together academic and practical experts to focus on crowd management, event safety, and urban climate regulation. They seek to develop practical and innovative solutions to address urban and event safety challenges. The training offered by iSSUE allows one to understand the characteristics and needs of a crowd, identify anti-social behavior and risks in densely populated areas, and plan crowd management measures. Indeed, a crowd has needs and expectations that must be taken into account in order to inform, guide, and reassure them. Crowd management is not improvised and requires specialized training.
Anticipatory strategy and operational plan for managing risks related to public influx
Organizing a large-scale event involves anticipating potential risks that could lead to a loss of control. For example, the main artist cancels their performance or a storm approaches dangerously close to the outdoor event location. If these scenarios have not been considered, it is unlikely that the entire team will be able to implement the appropriate actions. It is necessary to study the environment, site configuration, as well as the motivations of participants, their mindset, and factors that could disturb, frustrate, or panic them. In short, organizing a successful event requires extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of many parameters, in order to be able to react quickly and make the appropriate decisions.