Down with the kids or nowhere near it? Looking at messaging services impact on crowd management

Down with the kids or nowhere near it

down with the kids

The state of being on the same wave length as members of a younger generation. To be cool, clued-up and enlightened as a result of ones knowledge and/or pursuit of the interests, passtimes and trends commonly associated with people younger than oneself. A characteristic commonly displayed by minor television personalities, celebrities and people involved in entertainment media, trend spotting, marketing and advertising.

Urban Dictionary

 

As crowd safety managers and practitioners, we have moved on from the days of someone asks you for a few handy guys to look after a band playing. We now follow the guidance and regulations provided to us by the governing bodies and governments. We research the events and we train our staff.

In a day and age of social media, streaming video and picture messaging, the mobile device is king and is driving change. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a 12-18year old these days; they can hardly take their faces out of the screen of their smartphone incase they miss an update. Try taking their phone away for a few hours; its like a junkie in a locked room without a fix. Communication by mobile device is how the “kids” live their lives now. Facebook, instagram, twitter, youtube, these we know and have been embraced by all age groups; but how about Snapchap or Whatsapp?

Now I can admit, I use Whatsapp at events – quick messages, photos of the crowds, event structures. It is a running log of the event between the group. It is secure and safe. This causes a problem for us though when the customers communicate this way.

Over the years we have embraced social media and tracked trends, feedback and if there is any problems. We can gauge the feeling of our audiences, spot problems before they get out of hand and follow the movements of your customers.

What happens though if the kids do not want you knowing what they are doing? What if it is not your customers but those that do not have tickets and can impact on your event? We can look at a few cases and maybe by sharing we can learn to change and understand that no matter what we do, the kids are always one step ahead now and we have to try and keep up with them.

 

UK Riots 2011

It was found that during the riots, the police where left in the wake of fast moving youths that where organized and seemed to be communicating in a way that the police could not pick up on. This was later found to be though BBM, a popular secure messaging system at the time ( The Guardian , 2011 ). These messages allowed the rioters to move fast, communicate and stay ahead of the police.

We can now look at other applications such as Whatsapp as replacing this and having the ability to be used on any Smartphone. The law enforcement institutes have raised their concerns after having their fingers burned once; to the point they now want these applications that they cannot monitor banned. This shows the threat that the government of the UK see ahead of them; terror threat communication between cells that cannot be seen. This could be against your event?

 

Wireless festival 2015

Over the past couple of weeks we have seen and heard of the challenging situations that occurred on the perimeter of this festival. Footage showing groups of non ticket holders attempting to breach the site and confrontations with security and police. Was this a repeat of what we witnessed during the UK riots?

There are a couple of ways of looking at it and each have been passed. The blogger holds no preconceived opinions and only shares opinions that have been posted on websites and social media.

1 – We witnessed the use of messaging services against an event space on a larger scale than seen before. Groups where well organized and one step ahead of security and police (shades of the UK riots 2011). They looked for weaknesses and acted on mass to attempt to overwhelm the point of entry. They moved fast and acted in units.  If this is correct, then it could be a worrying trend for future events. It has always been said that we only control events through co-operation of those attending. If we do not have that, or this is influenced by outside elements then do we really have control; or can we afford the resources that it would take to have control.

2 – There was a flaw in the planning. Taking the UK’s biggest “Urban” event and placing in a park in central London should have had extra precautions. It has been suggested that an event with no additional security measures and low policing could prove to be a soft target. The event space is within easy walking or low cost transportation links of highly populated areas; where the demographics of those areas match the genre of entertainment being provided. There was also the well publicized “Heat Wave”, which again leads to the venue being a more tempting target to pay a visit to.

Either of these points of view proves troubling in their own ways. This blogger hopes that this was a chance event and that it does not become a trend across the country or at future events.

Troon Beach, Scotland 2015

 

It was reported that over 5000 youths descended on a Scottish seaside resort and decided to have a mass party in the middle of the day. Now you may ask, what has that got to do with an event or crowd management? Not a lot is the answer. But, it is to show a worrying case.

This was not picked up on by the law enforcement of the country before it took place to allow preventative measures to be put in place. The gathering was only picked up when it was reported that large groups where seen using transport hubs and then by local residents or holiday makers when the behavior of the youths offended.

What we need to look at though is how this was organized; through a Facebook event. There are also reports in the press of house parties having hundreds if not thousands turn up. As these are not attached to events it may seem negligible, but do you watch out for planning out with your control that could impact on your event. A small post on a social media site can grow arms and legs and before you know it you have a sizable crowd outside or attending your event.

Social media is moving faster than most of us can keep up with, but we must try. If we do not we will fall further and further behind and we could lose touch with the “kidz”.

 

Workingwithcrowds 12th July 2015

Refer to:-

WhatsApp faces UK ban within weeks

By Aaron Brown Aaron Brown

PUBLISHED: 17:27, Thu, Jul 9, 2015 | UPDATED: 12:36, Fri, Jul 10, 2015

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/590061/WhatsApp-UK-Ban-Weeks-Snoopers-Charter

WhatsApp, Snapchat and iMessage could be banned under new laws Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2015/07/10/whatsapp-snapchat-and-imessage-could-be-banned-under-new-laws-5289099/#ixzz3fgQvACSp

Amazing footage shows lone policeman holding off 150 gatecrashers trying to batter their way into Wireless music festival Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3151205/Amazing-footage-shows-lone-policeman-holding-150-gatecrashers-trying-batter-way-Wireless-music-festival.html#ixzz3fgSDLbpG

Horde of 5,500 ‘drunk and fornicating’ teens drive shocked families from sun-kissed beach

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/horde-5500-drunk-fornicating-teens-6032064

Why BlackBerry Messenger was rioters’ communication method of choice

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/dec/07/bbm-rioters-communication-method-choice