Managing Crowds Safely
Whether you are expecting a handful of people to your event or thousands, safe crowd management is critical to ensuring everyone’s safety and the success of your event itself.
As an event organiser, you must take steps to ensure that everyone at your event safe and this means taking steps before the event to plan crowd management.
A crowd management plan determines who is going to be responsible for what, identifies what could potentially go wrong and action to be taken should this happen.
It also addresses what crowd management measures should be in place, including forecasting audience numbers, examining how people will get to your event and lave safely too.
When creating a crowd management plan, it helps to have an understanding of what affects the behaviour of people in a crowd.
There are a lot of psychological studies and research that has been carried out about how and why people change when they become part of a large group.
There are many theories, such as ‘panic theory’, a way of thinking that forms an important part of disaster planning. It assumes that people, in an emergency situation, cannot be trusted to act in a rational way.
It will help you as event organiser to understand how a crowd dynamic changes;
• Anonymity – the first is the feeling of anonymity in a crowd, with behaviour becoming part of ‘group think’. In other words, normally mild-mannered people become part of a mass swarm of people. This is why some people who have never been involved in any kind of protests can suddenly demonstrate anti-social behaviour.
• Sense of belonging – but on the other hand, with a ‘settled’ group dynamic, this collective thought fosters a great sense of belonging.
Some people believe that crowds are inherently hostile and anti-social, something that comes from a psychological theory from the 19th Century, known as Le Bon’s theory.
Since then, a lot more work and study has been carried out and now, it is believed that with proper planning and vigilance, fostering a positive crowd environment is possible.
Fostering a great crowd dynamic
Understanding how aspects such as heat, cold, the weather and alcohol, for example, are also known to affect how individuals react in a certain situation but how they affect a crowd dynamic or ‘group think’ too.
As part of event organisation and crowd management plans, understanding how to foster a fantastic atmosphere so that everyone enjoys themselves is important. Many of the negativities that enforce poor behaviour such as poor management of queues and so on, can be minimised, if not negated completely.