Stand out from the crowd

Crowd management at events is becoming more and more of an issue nowadays. Whether it be over crowding, pushing and shoving or violence. Why is it becoming increasingly harder to control?

Why do crowds need to be managed in the first place? Well large amounts of people increase the odds of a dangerous occurring happening. It is more likely that individuals will get away as the blame can be put onto others if there are a lack of security or cameras about. Actions become slower and more complicated when a large amount of people are around which aggravates and agitates people. Big crowds raise the possibility of the number of victims affected (Marsden, 1998).

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It is unfortunate to hear when situations turn out of control and people start to get hurt. Sadly, this is a regular occurrence. One example of this is the well known Hillsborough disaster which resulted in the death of 96  fans and left hundreds more injured. This was due to overcrowding on the stalls of the grounds, nearly double the capacity. This caused a barrier to collapse which was causing people to fall on top of each other. Supporters continued to climb perimeter fences to escape, while others were dragged to safety by fans in the upper tiers.

One event that I have attended which I felt had really poor crowd management was in 2009 at the Birmingham Christmas light switch-on where around 60 people were injured in a crowd surge during a performance by the group JLS.jls

The event was not ticketed and it was down to a first come first serve basis. more than 20,000 came to see the performances on the day and by the time JLS came on, it was reported that 27,000 people showed up as people surged the barriers resulting in a crowd surge and the people at the front being trapped under barriers, which then the event organizes decided to cancel the rest of the show. It was absolute chaos. This would have been easily avoidable if the event was ticketed and there was better security and barriers at the entrance.

Its hard to tell exactly what causes these bad things to happen at events as each situation is different. However there are some common Factors to blame, for example; poor crowd control implicated, duplicating tickets when the venue doesn’t have a good way to check tickets, which results in the venue being overcrowding. Corrupt ticket sellers which creates fake tickets that are able to be scanned which also results in the overcrowding of the venue. Vehicles getting in the way blocking pathways, entrances or exits. Poor measures over admission, letting more people in than capacity. People jumping the venue fence/wall, again resulting in over capacity.

What is the best way to manage the crowds at events then? When things do get out of hand and the police start to use tear gas when crowds get worse can lead to an even angrier crowd. Some describe it as ‘a textbook example of what not to do’. What else can be done?

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At large scale events, organizers are challenged with cost-effectively managing crowd flow, tracking the location of individuals at an event, and ensuring their safety and comfort. There is now a live crowd analytic software, which can not only spot problems in the crowd but also claims to be able to predict where overcrowding is likely to happen. It works by a live data feed that comes into a large operations room where they are analysed by military personnel, the police and other crowd managers. This software provides accurate and real-time data on crowd numbers, densities, distributions and flows.

As well as this technology available, there are other methods that event organisers can implement pre, during and post event. Although it is hard to predict when something might happen, by looking at other events and learning from their mistakes, they can be as prepared as possible in case something happens. Before hand, making sure all tickets are real ones and only sell the capacity amount is vital to prevent over crowding. Make sure walls around the venue can’t be jumped over to also prevent this overcrowding happening. During the event, having many security around and in the crowds will make it less likely for people to do bad things and that they are easily available incase something does happen. After the event has finished, making sure all exits are unblocked and there is an easily accessible route available for people to leave the venue safely. Also warning and educating people about what can happen when things become out of hand and what they can do to better the situation will also help.

 

 

 

 

 

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Clean festival, cleaner future

The key issues in festival sustainability are- waste management, carbon emissions, noise pollution, crowd management. Although noise pollution can’t really be helped with music blaring all day and night and crowd management is a whole other nutshell to be covered, this will focus more on the waste management and reducing carbon emissions.

Looking into how much festivals contribute to the environment, the Music Business Journal have provided that stats. Live performance venues and festivals alone cause at least 400,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions, not to mention the amount of energy consumed. 175,000 of the 400,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions are derived from audience transportation to the shows, so that’s 43% of these coming from audience travel alone! Whats being done to lover this? Festivals provide transport from major cities, for example The Big Green Coach big green bus(V Festival, 2015).

Alternatively, Glastonbury has set up a car share scheme for people traveling from the same places. If thousands and thousands of people are traveling to the festival site, they need to be encouraged to take these more sustainable methods of transport. I know I would be more likely to take a greener transport if it would get me as close to the campsite as possible so I wouldn’t have to carry my luggage far, as that is one of the most annoying things about camping at a festival. They need to provide more incentives to take these alternative methods, money off the ticket if they choose to take the coach would be an excellent one. Alternatively, money off food and drink around the site would be another one.

28.1% of festival goers did consider a festivals environmental impact when choosing to go to an event (Recycling and UK Music Festivals survey, 2013). Others are ‘too drunk and excited to care’. However, one festival that got me really thinking about sustainability was Glastonbury festival in 2014. 175,000 people do attend Glastonbury each day (Smith, 2014) and this will leave some sort of effect on the environment, even with the sustainability policies. However, the thing that struck me was their slogan ‘Love Worthy Farm, leave no trace’. leave no trace

I don’t know why this struck me so much, but I made sure I didn’t leave a trace, no litter, no cigarette butts, no peeing in the river (although that would have been hard to do anyway). Because of the nature of Glastonbury festival, I feel like the majority of the attendees picked up on this too and respected the land that the festival was on.

 

What are some waste management policies?

One example is Festival Republic aims to do as much as possible to reduce the impact that their festivals have on the environment. They strive to use innovative solutions to fundamental areas of impact such as energy, waste and transport. These include-

  • A three bin system across the festival sites
  • A campers waste kit containing a recycling bag and a biodegradable bag for composts.
  • A group of 100-150 volunteers help run the recycling initiatives and spread the message across the site.
  • Bio-diesel to run the generators onsite.

Another policy that festival republic do and many festivals have in place, which I first noticed at V Festival back in 2010, was paying a deposit for a cup or bottle and getting 5-20p return. So you’d look around the festival site finding cups and bottles on the floor, stacking them up as high and as much as you can carry, return them and get money back! So many people did this, I thought it was a wonderful idea. However, it was really well advertised back then and nowadays it is less well known that this is a policy, festivals need to market this more and the ones that don’t have this policy, need it!

Festivals that have just started up or don’t have a sustainable policy in place or would like a better policy, there are solutions. Either take advise and inspiration from other events. Or, there is a not-for-profit company committed to helping music and arts events and festivals around the world adopt environmentally efficient practices called A Greener Festival. They provide information, education resources and facilitate the exchange of good idea. It is worth it in the long run for festivals to take up this option.

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Let’s hope that more of the big festivals can clean up their acts this year.

 

Alcohol & Festivals..

 

The majority of us would have seen that one person or that group of people ‘off their face’ at an event of some-sort, whether this be at a music festival or a football match, this is always an issue. But why is this always happening? What is being done to prevent this? It’s becoming an issue for events as some start to get a bad reputation as many fights break out and crowds can start to become rowdy. As well as these issues, underage drinking at events has become a rising issue.

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Well, when there are posts like this found online easily, there is no wonder that more and more people, whether they are underage or not, are getting drunk. It has become glamoured and is seen almost as a fun challenge to see how much alcohol you can sneak in to an event, the more creative way the better. Even I have tried to bring alcohol into the festival site (and succeeded I might add). But why? I can think of a few reasons why I did. The biggest one being that buying alcohol at the bar is just ridiculously expensive!  According to the Guardian, drinks prices are on the rise, with the highest cost in the UK being Glastonbury festival at £4.40 being the average cost of a beer! As well as the price, the queues to the bar are so long. I don’t want to be queuing for a drink, which inevitably, will be split on the floor straight after I get it by some idiot dancing away without any cares. And this seems to be the reason for other people too and as mentioned here, people often don’t have a lot of money after buying the event ticket and they need to save money somehow.

It is unavoidable that people will get drunk, if they are in the mind set, it will happen. Are there ways to control this or to stop people getting too drunk? Perhaps. There are implications that the event can put in place, things that the attendees can keep in mind and businesses that have taken advantage of this situation and have come up with their own ideas.

First things first, I think it would be a whole lot better if more events gave out free drinking water at the bars and drink stands. This happens at most music venues and it proves to be effective as when people start to overheat then they have relief from this instead of trying to re-hydrate themselves with a beer. This way, even if people will carry on drinking alcohol after they’ve had a pint of water, they are less likely to become dehydrated and pass out.

Water

This is an example at Glastonbury, a kiosk providing free water, there needs to be more of these around!

I know there are free drinking water points, but usually they are so little and so far away from anything. Also, security loves to take away bottles. This way, if the bar staff see that someone is too drunk whilst trying to get served, they can just hand them drinking water instead to sober up. It has now become necessary for every festival organization in Amsterdam to make free refills of water bottles possible at future outdoor events, not just at the refill points, but also at bars. This has been endorsed by the mayor of Amsterdam and has said that festival goers need to be ‘protected from the dangers of dehydration or fatigue and should thus have unlimited access to free drinking water.

Other methods to control alcohol would be picking a method for checking ID and use it consistently. Having a system will make checking ID easier, faster, and more accurate. This will stop potential underage drinkers and stop people without their ID from drinking (annoying for them, better for the event). Or alternatively, when the ticket for the event gets scanned, ask to see their ID, if they are over 18, provide one coloured wristband, and under 18, another. This way, the bar staff will know not to serve the underage people.

 

Alternatively, wearable technology.. It is the future after all!

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Vive Smart Bracelet monitors your alcohol and dehydration levels when you go out, and lets your friends know if you’ve had too much. The band connects to a smartphone app, and monitors your alcohol intake as soon as you start drinking. It will then buzz periodically throughout the night, and if you squeeze the bracelet in response, the app translates that as you being fine. When you don’t squeeze the bracelet though, the app then notifies your friends via social media platforms to come find you and make sure you’re okay… Amazing!

It may be out of the event organizers hands that people will inevitably get drunk but, as shown, there are methods to help the matter.