Reader response: Wasserman Experience’s Barbara Walker

Barbara Walker, head of special projects at Wasserman Experience, reacts to issues covered in October’s Access All Areas, including health and safety and technology.

Is crowd safety often overlooked?

Crowd safety should be the focus of any event right from the project design phase. It should not be something that we attempt to mitigate later within planning, as this can cause life-threatening scenarios like the incident during 2011’s Pukkelpop festival.

Even during the creative development stage, the movement and safety of an event’s audience should be key considerations and addressed within the event design. Risk identification around factors like audience profile, social and political factors, prevailing weather conditions, venue selection and site design are all key within the design process and are essential in ensuring a safe spectator experience.

What technologies can improve safety?

The use of technology is often over looked. Integrated wired and wireless communications solutions, linked with the emergency PA system and use of CCTV within Event Control offer a huge step forward in allowing event management to communicate seamlessly; a vital necessity in an evacuation or emergency scenario.

Other technologies traditionally linked with audience experience like RFID and NFC also offer real possibilities for integrated access control and crowd monitoring as well as creative applications.

How should staff engage with safety issues?

Safety and security specialists should also play a key role within the planning stages of public events, with the aim of developing suitable crowd management plans. For projects with a specific risk profile, we at Wasserman engage specialists across a range of disciplines including structural, fire and security engineers, to ensure audience safety and minimise risk.