Mitigating the Risk in Crowded Places



For the 4th consecutive year, Major Events International worked in collaboration with the London-based Security & Counter Terror Expo to consider the security risks to major events. Given the recent attacks in Brussels and Paris and media coverage regarding threats to Rio 2016 and the Euro 2016 championship, this year’s event revealed the complete lifecycle of safety and security risks to crowded places. A panel of expert companies led attendees the different risks to crowded places and how to mitigate these risks.

There is a plethora of security challenges that surround the planning and delivery of large scale events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games or the World Cup, which are significant and complex. Andy Amery of R3S Global, illustrated that the reason why major events are becoming targets is due to the high profile of the event; they are multi-sport, multi-city, multi-venue and invite millions of viewers from around the world. For that reason, it is imperative that all aspects of security are planned for, if not the event could experience a PR nightmare.

It raises the question as to when security should be considered in the planning stages of major events. Scott Wiener of Atkins reasoned that planning with regards to security should begin at the preliminary stages of planning for the event as a whole. He warned that you cannot use a ‘one size fits all approach’; the security landscape in different host nations varies greatly therefore making it difficult for the host to determine which security solution is right for them. They may demand specific and unique solutions highly dependent on the nature, scale and location of the event, as a result security must be part of the master planning stage for the country that is hosting the event.

Risk mitigation is a talking point on the strategies that can be used at major events; the most common being crowd control. Kat Steinberg of Movement Strategies emphasized that stadia, fan parks, and shopping malls are all high density areas that could potentially be a target for an attack. Its argued that venues need to move in line with technology in order to remove excessive queuing and to control the space and to mitigate any form of attack.

However, there has been a paradigm shift in the form of attacks, the most common being cyber-attacks triggered by hackers and hacktivists, as described by Mark Smyth-Roberts of C3IA. Cyber security is evolving and so is the level of threat, according to Smyth-Roberts there have been hacks to F1 cars, thus creating a precedent for equipment to be hacked into, exposing customer details, not to mention the risk to the venue’s technology itself.

However, in contrast CBRN (chemical, biological radiological and nuclear), unlike cyber, is an upcoming epidemic that is introducing new equipment that current experience cannot prepare for.  Tim Otter of Lutra Associates, reiterated that stadia need to advance their detection systems, and most importantly we need to train the public to be vigilant.

On the topic of training, despite the need for security to be initiated at the beginning of the planning stages, there is a tendency spend large amounts on equipment but to leave little room in the plan and budget for staff training on how to effectively keep the event safe. Eileen Williams of Blue Integrity highlights the need for training to be included in the planning of these events, however timing is an issue; training cannot be planned in advance as it costs a lot of money and other plans need to be put in place in order to determine how much personnel will be needed.

With all eyes turning to France for Euro 16, and Brazil for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the topics mentioned are relevant in the ways to protect the host country from any form of threat, and more importantly to consider the full lifecycle of risks in order to improve strategies and best practice to deliver a safe and secure event.



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