In 2016 we attended the first international crowd safety conference in Birmingham, after it we shared some thoughts. As we sit in a quiet room, post conference; there may be wine involved, don’t judge us, we are trying to collect our thoughts. The volume of information presented over the 2 days, spark thoughts that can be overwhelming.

So in short, we have nothing but positive comments. If you where possibly thinking about picking holes in the conference, you may want to look elsewhere. Andy and the team from Crowd Safety Training took the conference to be part of the larger International Security Expo. Downstairs we had access to all the latest tech, security equipment and if you need an expert on a subject, they would be somewhere in the massive venue. The conference was free and the standard of speakers was industry leading. 

Before a brief overview of the speakers for the 2 days, the small (or is that large) thoughts that we took away took away with us.

1- its all in the planning and if you are only doing the basics you are at risk

2- we need to keep education at the top of our very young industries agenda and how are we cascading this to a young workforce. 

So where to start, the beginning is always a good start.

Day 1, early in the morning, Roy Wise introduced us to new training standards for operational crowd managers. Now, some I am sure would have seen this as a sales pitch for training provision. There is no denying it. We do not care (we do not speak for all delegates), good for Roy and his colleagues. They took the opportunity to introduce this to a gathering of crowd safety experts and present what they have managed to put together. Well done. The content looks exactly what the industry needs to keep pushing forward. AND, they have managed to to find away of using the apprenticeship levy to assist in paying for this training. In an industry that may struggle to use this money due to a casual workforce, this is massive. You may be able to tell that we are all for this. Look at our education and courses tab for more information.

Following Roy was Christal Hengeveld from Movement Strategies, focusing on crowd safety and security on arrival at events. A subject close to our hearts at Working With Crowds and we were not disappointed. A key point for us was variations, just because guidance says a suggested flow rate, not every entry point will operate this way. Should we consider this when planning for our events? 

Ian Mixter presented to us the story of introducing an independent safety rail within the seating area at Oxford United football stadium. What is that you ask? Think safe standing. A fascinating story and one that can not be over looked for this industry changing implementation. In years to come in England most will remember this as a starting point. What we found interesting; apart from the passion that fought against all the nay sayers, was the way Ian approached the problem. He used his learnings not only as ex police, the serving safety officer, but also a crowd safety manger. He seen a problem and solved it. He done the research, he involved the right people to get on board. A truly inspiring journey.

Our furthest travelled speaker had to be Chief Inspector Michael Rochester from New South Wales in Australia. To hear how police from the other side of the world are thinking about crowds in the same way as crowd managers in the UK. Having worked on some of the most iconic events in the world and not having legislation and guidance as developed as the UK, was eye opening. We can forget that the UK has learnt and developed to where we are for the mistakes and tragedies from the past. Policing can sometimes not sit well with crowd management, so it refreshing to see the development of policing and crown managers becoming aligned. 

After a well earned lunch break we had Andrew McQuillan from Crowd Safety Drones introduce us to the the benefits of drone use at events. FULL DISCLAIMER- we have being working with Andrew and we would like to thank him for introducing our work to the delegates. We have already shared our thoughts on drone use in a previous blog, spoiler….we are fans. But again to those that had not seen this before, we seen how drones can enhance your safety delivery and is worth looking into.

Next up, Paul Foster from Foamhand. Paul gave us an insight into the vast amount of information and stages of providing solutions for Major Events. From the moment the crowd arrive at transport hubs to returning on the way home, a full consideration of the handover at each stage of the chain. To base this in the real world, showing us that it does not always go to plan and that a small thing can put a spanner in your well planned event, made this presentation relatable. We took away many thinking points from this and over the next few weeks we would like to see how our plans can fit into this thought process.

Claire Q from West Midlands Police reminded us in the UK of the processes and thoughts around the current thoughts on the perceived threat in relation to CT. A subject that in international, there is no hiding from it, but Claire gave us an honest point of view and let us know that we can play an active part in making our crowded places safer to be in. After all, as was pointed out, we just want life to continue on and we should not live in fear, just be prepared and aware.

Our first day was rounded off by Soloman N’jie. We give Sol his full and proper name because that is how you will hear it if Sol is the expert witness on the other end of a legal case against you. Now, Sol could not have made it any clearer, get all your planning in place and deliver it. If you don’t, Sol might be the one ripping you apart. A night to think about this and share our thoughts with a few drinks.

Day 2 came at us fast and we were right in at the cutting edge; that cutting it is not in the public domain yet.

Geoff Revill from Krowdthink. Presenting their app that allows you to connect with the crowd and provide them to be part of the safety and security of your event and the crowded places they are in, this was a refreshing rethink of involving the power of the crowd. Now this all seems to be made through wizardry and delivered by pixies (it’s not really, just us still trying to wrap our head around the tech and the warm glow that we are glad someone else done all the work and we just have to be reassured it all does what we need). During the presentation we downloaded it from the App Store, logged in and joined the krowd. Impressive and we look forward to this rolling out.

We doubt there will ever come a time when we do not enjoy listening to Professor John Drury present. In 45 minutes, John can inspire, challenge your perceived norms and give you just enough information for you want to know more. It is here that we feel like shouting from the roof top…pay attention…..listen……..learn and share. How can you deliver crowd management if we do not know how groups will think, interact and the best way to relate to them. 

For the second time Andy has brought to us something out the box that we as crowd managers would not have at the front of out minds. Charlotte Copeland from SafeHaven CISM introduced us to the concept of dealing with trauma.  But, not only in our crowds, but specifically looking the workforce. Take a moment to think about the attack at Manchester Arena, all the press focus on the families and greater community. But what about the workforce on site, those dealing with a situation that they did not expect when they signed into work. Coping with the unthinkable until the emergency services arrive. What do we have in place to help them, support them, take them through the stages post incident. An area we will be looking into more. Thank you Charlotte. 

Straight off a flight from America, Eric Stuart allowed us to consider the unexpected. We can plan, we can be sure about what we have done, but what did we not think about? Eric introduces some humour in his presentations; something we have enjoyed in the past. This creates a memorable moment that sticks with you and allows you to refer back to it. He also allows you to look for what you have missed and provides a better understanding of how we and our crowds take in the vast amounts of information crowds take in at events and how we can assist in this process. 

Following on from Eric and rounding off the day was Emma Parkinson; off the same flight from America. We have had the pleasure of studying under Emma and once again she showed enough energy and enthusiasm that you could actually believe she could make all our events safe by herself; with enough coffee. Breaking down and allowing us to understand that complexity in event safety does not have to be overwhelming. Inspiring is about the least we could gush about Emma. A one person force of nature dragging us into a new frontier of safety and understanding.

And breath.

Seeing so many professionals and experts in one room is motivational . You leave wanting to do more, you want to raise the bar. For us, we want to share this, we want us all to go on the journey of learning. We had the pleasure of being part of that step forward.

On a final note of thanks to Andy and his team, he waited till the end of the conference to present us with the information of their commitment to bringing out a magazine in relation to crowd safety. Something we do not have and a massive leap in sharing information. Oh and that he wants to deliver the conference each year, something we all need.

To all those there it was a pleasure to see you all and hear from you. Please keep sharing, talking and taking us forward.

Working with crowds 29th November 2018 

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