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Crowd Management for Festivals and Live Events.

Andy Robertson

It can be daunting to manage any substantial crowd whether it's a live event at an indoor venue with finite numbers or an outdoor mega festival with over 100,000 visitors. Fortunately there is professional help available for any event organisers who don’t have the experience or resources to manage such large volumes of visitors.  


In some respects, crowd management is a science that very much depends on environmental factors and crowd behaviour. The University of Sussex's School of Psychology is home to John Drury’s Research Group, the recognised leading authority on the science and study of crowd behaviour. When researching large music festivals, it was clear that popular opinion tends to see a crowd in a potential emergency situation as a chaotic mass of panic-stricken individuals who need to be herded and controlled. However previous research by John Drury has shown consistently that mass emergency behaviour is orderly and co-operative and far removed from popular representations of crowd behaviour - the so-called 'disaster myths', which include 'mass panic', violence, disorder and chaos. For more insight and background reading into the study and science of crowd behaviour check out their published research studies.

On a practical level for event organisers there are key organisations and individuals that need to coordinate any crowd control plans well before the event takes place. These plans need to be agreed at an early stage as this can affect a festival site layout or venue management controls. For event organisers based in the UK who lack experience and resources in crowd management they can turn to the United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA). The UKCMA was formed in 2001 and has since gained recognition form the British Standards Insititute (BSI) and the Security Industry Authority (SIA). The organisation has an approved member's scheme for contractors and provides industry guidance, standards and training. 

Event organisers managing any large-scale event have the option to outsource their crowd management which will save a lot of time and effort. The UKCMA has an approved list of members meaning that event organisers can be safe in the knowledge that their crowd management will be professionally handled being compliant with all Health and Safety Executive (HSE) initiatives and requirements. A contracted crowd management company will deal with all the necessary third parties including the police, fire and ambulance services plus local authorities. The contractor should be able to provide constructive input back to the event organisers about any changes required to processes and procedures in managing the event. As well as managing the planning and logistics the contracted company should also be able to provide any personnel required relating to security and crowd management working closely with volunteers as required.

For any live event organiser planning their event using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their crowd management processes and contractor logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors guestlists and ticketing.

Photo by Wolfgang from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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