The International Crowd Safety Conference 2016 delivered by eResponse Crowd Safety – initial thoughts.

I guess the first thing I should clear out the way – this is not a review or critique. These are the thoughts and impressions of an attendee that went with an open and impartial mind. I will admit as with all conferences, especially with one that was being laid on for free, there was concern that it was going to be a sales pitch for the company’s services. I am pleased to announce that this was far from the case.


After clearing that out the way, we can get to the bit that should have came first. Thank you to the eResponse team, for the efforts that they went to in providing a great customer experience. From the minute of online registration to leaving the car park at the end of the day, you could see the planning and effort that had been put into this gathering. The day was well paces and engaging. Hopefully; like myself, the attendees left with plenty of though and discussion with their colleagues. The subjects covered related to current hot topics and of areas of crowd management that will make the difference in the future from those pushing forward and those getting left behind.


Our moderators for the day Kriss Akabussi and Rodger Black kept the day moving along and provided us with entertaining stories and motivational moments of team work and inspiration. I for one was rather glad of the size of the room as it was just about big enough to contain the energy coming from Kriss Akabussi.


Our first speaker was Andy Hollinson. Introducing us to the day ahead and what they hoped to achieve from the conference. This lead us to the introduction of Dr Mick Upton who once again shared with us the vision that he had so many years ago and now being taken forward by training providers like eResponce and the continuation of the New Bucks University Crowd Safety courses. Dr Upton talked us through the progression of the Industry to the present day and hinted as to where it is heading. It is always a pleasure to listen to Dr Upton and you always learn something new.


A subject that is starting the hit the front pages of our papers and social media is the rise of the football risk support was the subject of Professor Clifford Stott presentation. We could not have asked for a better presenter on this subject and the presentation was engaging and insightful. Prof Stott allows us to take a step back and relook at the subject; when we are on the front line we can become focused and not see alternative solutions. On the day we were allowed the time and provided with a train of thought to allow us to go away and relook at how we tackle this element of crowd safety.


I will be the first person to admit, I seen the next part of the conference as possibly the part of the day where I would catch up on emails and a bit of twitter action. Got to admit, I could not have been more wrong. Heather McGill showed us a side to crowd management that most of us write off as fluffy nonsense and not relevant to crowd managers. Heather managed to convince me in 40 minutes that this could not be further from the case, understanding our customers and how we communicate is the first thing we should be considering. Far too often we do not get the time to plan in advance and it all becomes about the man power on the ground, we miss this pre thought and preparedness. Through this presentation we are shown that if we understand our customer’s needs we can plan better for the event days and make our lives easier and the customer experience greater. (I must add, no emails where read or tweets sent during that time…. a new record for me).


Following on after Heather’s eye opening topic was Dr John Drury and his passion for Crowd Psychology.  Much to my frustration in the past this is the first time I have managed to listen to Dr Drury present to an audience. You can tell when listening to Dr Drury talking on the subject that can be ignored my many in the industry, that this area can have a massive impact on crowd management and our understanding of our customers. We are shown that through understanding the psychology of our customers we can better assist them and how they will react in stressful situations. An absolute pleasure to listen to.


Next up was Robbie Naish and he was joined all the way from Australia by Jim Fidler. Robbie informed us of the importance of training our teams and what benefits we can get from it. This could have been a boring sales pitch from our hosts, but it was not. It was not even leaning towards using eResponce as your training provider, we where lead through what is available, but lots of companies could provide some of the training. Robbie showed some videos of live action where the training of the staff assisted on the day and you could see that if untrained this could have went South quickly. Jim spoke to us via pre recorded video segments on the future of Australia and where they are heading. You can see they are going though what we in the UK went through over the years, but they are getting the support from those that have been through the painful process; good luck to Jim and his team, we hope it all works out well.


We now come to the elephant in the room section. I am calling it that because, going by the panel questions that was what was on everyone’s mind. I am pairing the next two speakers together although they spoke separately.  The subject of the current threat level of terror attack is the big subject of the moment and you can tell everyone wants someone to give the answers. Officer  W (I am not using a name as it was requested on the day) possibly had the hardest job of the day, telling the room that the police are not going to provide the answers;they can help, but we have to come up with our own solutions. Jim Goddard followed this up with the subject of contingency planning. Jim basically gave the answers without saying it. It is up to us to prepare and plan for the worst. We can no longer throw the ball back to the police if things go wrong, as an industry we should be heading towards police free events.


To round the day off, a panel of experts; Dr Drury, Officer W, Jim Goddard and Robbie Naish, where open to taking questions from the floor. There was some tough questions asked and I have to admit they all gave relevant and honest answers. No one ducked out of the way. I actually wished the panel section could have lasted a bit longer as it was very engaging.


And like all good things, it came to an end. Andy Hollinson closed the day, thanked us all and the first International Crowd Safety Conference was brought to a close. My one regret was having to make a quick exit due to a long journey home. I never got the opportunity to that the organisers and the presenters for a wonderful experience. Hopefully I will get to rectify this in 2017? Yes that was a hint, if not eResponce then this should be carried on yearly.


To Andy and his team, a massive thank you for organising this and we wish you all the success going forward.


Workingwithcrowds 19th March 2016


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