636801208615155864636801208615155864636801208615155864636801208615155864 Crowd Management or Crowd Control? What's Your Mindset?

Crowd Management or Crowd Control? What’s Your Mindset?

July 02, 2013Perry Kuklin

“Crowd control” is the prevailing term to define a major responsibility of facility management in stadiums and arenas. However, managing and assisting crowds—a practice known as crowd management—is a more proactive approach and often more effective than trying to control a crowd after things go wrong.

Why Crowds Need to Be Managed

A crowd management report published in The Sport Journal listed the following crucial reasons for managing crowds:

  1. The more people an event brings in, the higher the odds of something dangerous or reckless occurring– just think about a stadium full of frustrated Philadelphia Eagles fans, or an arena packed with Justin Bieber devotees.
  2. Individuals within a large crowd commonly assume someone else will take care of maintaining their safety and well-being within the facility.The common sense of individual responsibility is dulled considering each person is just a face in the crowd.
  3. Besides concerns about crowd behavior, large gatherings of people come with side effects that can impact how effectively a facility operates and responds to the needs of the crowd. Big crowds can impede or slow down the actions and communication between facility employees and patrons.
  4. Most importantly, in the worst-case scenario, big crowds of people raise the possible number of victims. Should there be an uprising among angry fans or a fire in the building, panic and riot-like behavior can break out and spread in an instant. Situations like this pose a threat to every person in the facility.

Effective Crowd Management

Stadium and arena managers are challenged to objectively assess their approach to crowd management – and that means taking into account a great number of details, including the type of event taking place, the expected crowd size, seating arrangements, potential aggression between rival teams or among attendees, and the use of ushers and security.The design of the facility, the event itself, and the protection of patrons from risk or harm – whether from other individuals or the facility itself – are all part of crowd management. Visitors to a facility want and expect to be able to decipher what to do and where to go. Arenas and stadiums see many first-time visitors (and it’s wise to design for those first-timers) so directional and instructional signage can help get people quickly and easily to their seats, restrooms, concessions, and exits. Signage also creates feelings of calm and comfort – when people aren't uptight about getting lost or missing some of the action because they can’t find their seats, there is a greater sense of calm. It’s also important to be able to guide stadium attendees in a more direct and “physical” way. Crowd management solutions, such as retractable belt stanchions, for example,establish clear pathways for crowd flow. Stanchions equipped with panels or imprinted belts can also make clear when an area is forbidden or clear for passage. Successful facility managers will have procedures and policies in place for all possible occurrences – a guest has a medical emergency, a toilet overflows, a turnstile gets stuck, a register stops working at a central concession, there’s a disagreement about whose seats belong to whom, an elevator is broken, an intoxicated fan becomes unruly, the list goes on and on. Properly trained and capable staff will know how to manage each of these situations, and will also know where crowd management products are located so they can be speedily put into place when necessary.Though some concerns may seem minuscule, temporary, and controlled, even the smallest bump can turn into a large problem when it isn't properly handled or addressed quickly enough. Crowds need to be managed in order to quell whatever issue may be at hand and to prevent a problem from getting out of control and endangering the safety of other guests. Arenas and stadiums call for special crowd management solutions. Contact a Lavi expert to discuss your needs.

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