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    Thays Marques wrote a new post, The challenge of managing vendors at festivals 3 years, 10 months ago

    Whenever I work with an event team, and someone asks me what I do, their eyes glaze over when they recall their own experiences of having to deal with event traders. I have spent the last twelve years managing market and event traders, and for some reason it comes naturally to me. I have a real understanding of what is involved from a trader’s point of view, and I think this helps me both make decisions that they understand, and also deal with their dissatisfaction when they feel they are being short-changed.

    Festival traders are accustomed to arriving at a semi-chaotic site, having to struggle to find the correct person to deal with, then having to verify that the selected trading spot is going to suit their arrangement, and then they have to find out what other traders are in the area and if the level of competition is sustainable or strangulating. And this is all on top of having paid a premium to be there. Unfortunately due to the proliferation of diplomacy-deficient Event Vendor Managers, festival traders are always semi-ready for a set-to in order to get what they want, because most of them will have found that that actually works, and they end up getting the spot they want, in the area that they want. However, this demonstrates appalling vendor management forward planning.

    Vendors should arrive at a site that has a clear plan of who goes where, and due consideration should be given to distance between similar offerings, and not over-saturating the site. Vendors pay steep fees to participate, and unfortunately this can adversely affect the amount of traders allowed into an event because it is hard for the organisers to turn down an extra few grand, and it’s no skin off their nose if the trader doesn’t do well. The layout of traders should be viewed in terms of aesthetics, due regard for health and safety, and ensuring complementary stalls are located near one another. The event is a lot easier to manage if the stake holders are trading well, and this generates good word of mouth for future events, resulting in an increased amount of applications from which the best can be selected.
    Traders are bound by strict regulations in terms of food safety, hygiene, and fire safety. Vendors must be registered with the HSE in order to be eligible for trade, and HAACP guidelines must be followed from start to finish. Environmental Health Officers are pleased when they see records being maintained, demonstrating confidence and competence. Hygiene practices must be policed by the vendor area managers. It’s all fine and well to have HAACP certs etc. but if someone sees a trader handling money and then handling food without having washed their hands or using gloves, serious damage can be caused to the whole event. Area managers need to watch out for good food handling practices, hair tied back, aprons, and a system for collecting money that doesn’t involve contaminating the food.

    Getting vendors to participate in a new festival or event is a challenge. There are so many existing events to choose from that you may have to work with lesser known traders, keen to get a start, in order to get the event off the ground. As it establishes itself – presuming it was successful – it should be easier to recruit traders. The best way to find traders is to recruit an experienced vendor manager who should have a portfolio of traders from which to draw, or go market to market, and festival to festival, and woo the ones you want.

    About the author:

    Jackie Spillane started in the festival, market and event management world in 2003, following six years in the artisan food industry as a supplier. Jackie started the Peoples Park Market in 2003, followed by Marlay Park in 2004, both of which are still thriving. Jackie worked on the Festival of World Cultures for seven years, and curated the Festival of World Food for its two year run. Jackie works at Marlay Park each weekend at the markets, and works at various festivals and events throughout the year. Jackie specialises in coordinating traders for events.

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    Thays Marques wrote a new post, What makes for a sustainable event? 3 years, 10 months ago

    Lessons from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

    David Stubbs, Independent Sustainability Expert

    The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were an enormous success on numerous fronts and that is testimony to the hard work and excellence of so many people involved in the project.

    Nearly three years on and I am still hugely proud that we honoured our ambitious sustainability commitments and succeeded in raising the bar and setting new standards in so many areas. This wasn’t something extra; it was an integral part of what we did and helped us deliver such great Games.

    To understand what made the Games so noteworthy in terms of sustainability, this article takes an adapted extract from the final London 2012 Sustainability Report, published in December 2012.

    Early on in our planning for the Games, we set out a definition of what we meant by a sustainable event. This identified eight key attributes, which I think are a good way of looking at how we performed.

    Provide an accessible and inclusive setting for all

    The detailed planning in the early years to ensure we designed our venues and services to be as accessible as possible really bore fruit during the
    Games, complemented by the highly successful Games Mobility service.Our food services provided sufficient options to cater for diverse dietary, ethnic, cultural and practical needs; we provided affordable options, access to free drinking water and we allowed people to bring their own food into venues.Above all, the warm welcome provided by our volunteer Games Makers from all walks of life helped to make everyone feel part of the Games.

    velodromeProvide a safe and secure atmosphere

    Thankfully there were no major safety or security incidents during the Games.The screening of visitors into venues was efficient, friendly and even fun.This was due in large part to the marvellous professionalism of the armed forces and police and their positive engagement with the public.Behind the scenes, the work of the security and emergency services all contributed to the overwhelmingly relaxed and secure atmosphere at the Games.

    Have minimal negative impacts on the environment

    The Games inevitably consume a large amount of resources, but through our planning, procurement and operational choices we have massively
    avoided waste, we have made substantial carbon savings, sourced environmentally friendly products and taken care to protect the natural and cultural heritage found on our venues.From the natural planting of the Olympic Park to the detailed surveys and ecological management at Greenwich Park and Box Hill, and the partnerships we initiated, we made important contributions to biodiversity conservation.

    Encourage healthy living

    The inspirational power of sport clearly shone through during the Games. Since then, clubs up and down the country have reported a surge in participation in so many different sports.For the Games we instigated the Active Travel Programme, which not only enabled spectators and workforce to cycle or walk to venues, but it formed a huge part of managing the background travel demand across London. We addressed air quality concerns by ensuring we had a low-emission vehicle fleet, maximising use of public transport modes and fitting particulate filters to several of our temporary power generators.Finally, let’s not forget the health and well being benefits of creating a large new parkland in east London, providing vital open space for recreation and enjoyment of the natural environment.

    Promote responsible sourcing

    Staging the Games required a vast amount of goods and services, more than £1billion-worth in value, all of which had to be sourced sustainably.We put huge effort into our procurement programme, in which sustainability was an integral part of our definition of value for money.This gave us a diverse supplier base, of which 70 per cent of companies were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and represented all nations and regions of the UK.In 2011, we were certified to the globally recognised standard of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply for our effective processes, strategies, policies and procedures.

    We always knew there would be challenges, particularly in the area of labour standards, which is why our ground-breaking Sustainable Sourcing Code introduced the innovative concept of a Complaints and Dispute Resolution Mechanism, something that other companies, such as adidas,have since started to emulate.

    Deliver excellent customer experience

    When people feel valued they appreciate what you have done.All our client groups, from athletes to spectators, gave us excellent feedback on their Games experience.Their appreciation of the quality of service, of the venues and landscaping, of the transport and security services and the friendliness of the volunteer Games Makers made for an especially memorable occasion. Attention to detail had been a vital factor in achieving this, and sustainability was a key component.


    Encourage more sustainable behaviour

    One thing that came through loud and clear from the Games was that people respected the quality of the venues.So many remarked on how clean and litter-free they were, and how easy it was for them to recycle their rubbish.Respect for place was also important, whether at the newly created Olympic Park, on the sensitive chalk grasslands of Box Hill (part of the Road Cycling route), or on the grassy cliffs overlooking Weymouth Bay (our Sailing venue). Through many of the Inspire projects, our Get Set education programme and the local initiative Changing Places, we engaged thousands of people in sustainability projects and activities which we hope will continue for a long time to come.

    Leave a positive legacy

    Although ultimately legacy is a long-term perspective, we can already see numerous examples where our work is being carried forward: among our partners, BT and Coca-Cola have adopted and adapted our carbon footprint methodology to look at their business areas; the Food Legacy Pledge (managed by Sustain) is attracting widespread support; the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is taking forward many of the learnings from our zero waste Games vision; and we were instrumental in the development of the new international management system standard for sustainable events, ISO 20121, which is now firmly established across the global event industry.

    We certainly didn’t always get it right, and along the way we learnt from our mistakes.But by being there from the beginning, asking searching questions and seeking better ways of doing things, we gave ourselves the opportunity to choose.

    London 2012 was the result of all these choices. Every one that we and our suppliers and partners made had an impact on the success of the Games as well as on the environment, the community and our legacy.

    Sustainability does not have an end point and I hope that what we learnt and reported will continue to provide future events and major projects with a solid foundation for improving their sustainability performance.

    About the author:

    DS 2 - 15 04 14David Stubbs is an internationally recognised leader in sustainability, environmental management and conservation biology.
    Much of his career has centred on sustainability management of sport and major events. For nine years he led the award-winning sustainability programme of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, widely recognised as the most sustainable Games in modern Olympic history.
    He now works as an independent sustainability expert advising organisations and major projects throughout the world. He served on the IOC’s Evaluation Commission for the 2020 Summer Games and is currently a member of the Evaluation Commission for the 2022 Winter Games.

    Before London 2012, he spent 15 years working on environmental aspects of golf course development and management. His original training and research was in conservation biology and he is a founder member and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, as well as the 2013 recipient of the CIEEM Medal, the institute’s highest award. David is currently a Visiting Professor of Sustainability at the University of East London.


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    Thays Marques wrote a new post, Event Safety: It all starts on the top! 3 years, 11 months ago

    _DSC3995Creating a safe event involves many factors and many competences. Often the safety is based on the risk of fights, theft, fire or the focus on treating the audience in case of injuries. This focus has been developed in cooperation with the authorities during many years. But in the recent years a new focus has arisen.

    In the late 1980s a researcher within pedestrian movement, John J. Fruin, claimed that pedestrian movement was relevant for the safety at an event. He argued that when more than 500 people gathered there should be a person present with the focus of Crowd Safety Management. He defined Crowd Safety Management as; “thesystematic planning for, and supervision of, the orderly movement and assembly of people.”He explained that this involved assessment of the people handling capabilities of a space prior to use. The assessment should be based on the expected group behavior and the types of activities that could be expected.

    This meant that someone had to work with the crowd and understand them. A crowd profile had to be made in order for the crowd safety manager to do his or her tasks properly. The focus now changed to the psychology of the crowd and the understanding of how different audience types gather and move.

    Studying crowd’s psychology is not new. This started back in the 18th century, when Gustave Le Bon studied the crowd during the French revolution. Since then many theories has been developed, and they vary from believing that a person entering a crowd becomes violent, to arguing that a crowd develops its own norms. Some argue that the norm can vary from crowd to crowd or even within the same crowd. Some researchers believe that the way you treat the crowd will influence the way the crowd behave. Some even believe that if the norm of the event staff is too far from the norm of the audience it can create violent incidents that could have been avoided. John Drury, Otto Adang and Stephen Reicher are good examples of researchers who argues these.
    Even though the above theories have been around for many years it has only been within the last 15 years that the understanding of crowd safety management has started within the event industry.
    I believe that nowadays a Crowd Safety Manager must be a part of the top management team in order to create a safe event. I would even argue that an academic degree in Crowd Safety Management should be a minimum requirement within the safety advisory group.

    Academic degrees cannot, and should not, stand alone. Experience is a vital factor for a Crowd Safety Manager. But without the theoretic knowledge it has become more and more difficult to plan an event that lives up to the standards of the modern expectations.

    _DSC4478Fruin argued that the approach to Crowd Safety Management should be systematic, and as such systems and models should be implemented during the planning phase. As an example Dr. Keith Still has developed a model called DIM – ICE. This model is based on the argument that there are three elements that influence the safety:



    Planning an event can be overwhelming. A major festival needs to be broken into parts in order to work properly with the risks and the safety. Still argues that any event can be broken into three parts:



    Dr. Keith Stills model works. It is a good tool, and this is only one of the many models that can be used in the systematic planning phase.

    risk1But in order to supervise the implementation of the plans a well trained staff is needed. So now a day-licensed security guards, medical staff and fire prevention staff cannot be the only staff at the event. Staff must know, and understand, the psychology and the dynamics of the crowd. All staff must understand how they influence the norm of the crowd and how their behaviors affect the safety.

    It all starts at the top. If the Head of Security, Health and Safety has a proper training within crowd safety management, he will ensure that his staff has the same. He will also understand the implications and liability to the promoter and himself if there is a lack of training and understanding of the crowd.

    Creating networks and associations are imperative in order to share knowledge and experiences, and without these the opportunity to gain an academic degree in Crowd Safety management might never have been developed.

    I welcome the recently founded Event Industry Association of Ireland and hope that this association is one more step in the right direction of creating safer events all around the world.

     About the author:



    Morten Therkildsen is a crowd safety manager with a Bachelor of Honours in Crowd Safety Management from Bucks new university. Since 2006 he has been the CEO of ConCom Safety, but in 2013 he sold the company to Roskilde Festival. He is now the daily manager of ConCom Safety and Head of Security, Health and Safety at the festival. During the year ConCom Safety is a part of creating a safe and secure environment for the audience at more than 100 events. In 2014 CClogo_lime_safety_højtoplMorten Therkildsen was head of safety & security at The Eurovision song contest and head of audience safety at Malmø festival. Including these shows he was involved with the safety of more than 2.000.000 guest in 2014.


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    Thays Marques wrote a new post, New Options for Virtual Site Inspections and Virtual Travel 3 years, 11 months ago

    ©2015 Greg Murtha, President/CEO, XplorIt

    Virtual travel, once in the realm of science fiction, is now becoming a reality. Expanded bandwidth combined with new geocoded media technologies are resulting in the real life version of your kids gaming experience and creating a new genre of content marketing for hotels and venues.

    An excellent example is XplorIt, a company seeking to replicate virtually the first-person travel experience.  Onsite visitors can see a fly over a city suchUntitled-1 as  Chicago Northwest to gain a sense of geospatial location. These new tools provide a richer, more fulfilling experience that helps bring destinations to life, creating a multimedia environment that provides content while replicating the feeling of first person virtual travel.

    Large convention and meeting hotels seek to differentiate themselves through the quantity and quality of their meeting space, amenities and proximity to local attractions. Aside from the traditional site visit, the only way hoteliers had to convey there property’s offering to a meeting planner was with text, still photography, maps or a video. Now, planners can “fly” to various destinations such as the Renaissance Hotel Schaumburg and Meet Chicago Northwest to see the Improv Comedy ClubArlington Park Raceway and other attractions throughout the region. They can check out the lay of the land from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport or Downtown Chicago. These visitors can explore the destination and get a unique aerial perspective of the hotel.  Additional options include a map or street view and the ability to book a room or dinner reservation, submit an RFP for a meeting, buy tickets to a show or the racetrack or wine from a local vintner.

    Advertising Age recognized XplorIt with the Media Vanguard Award, calling it “groundbreaking… so immersive that it feels like a gaming experience.”  The game-like platform allows a visitor to explore meeting space at the Los Angeles Convention Center or to walk through the Anaheim Hilton or an attraction like the Kennedy Space Center or Yosemite National Park. Throughout the interactive experience, the user can go where they want and see what they want to see. The platform uses cutting-edge technology and delivers it in a responsive design that is mobile friendly. It includes a Facebook Studio application to access at home, or on the phone while at a destination. Additional functionality includes closed captioning for the hearing impaired or language translation, mapping, social networking, ecommerce, PDF’s, live camera feeds, geospatial positioning is all delivered within one elegant content delivery system.

    As these improvements in virtual travel and site inspections tools continue to advance, web visitors will see increasingly realistic, informative and immersive ways of exploring hotels and venues.

    CorbinBall-2011-HR-1About the Author:

    Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a professional speaker and consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. He can be contacted at his extensive web site: Corbin Ball Associates – Meetings Technology Headquarters and followed on Twitter: @corbinball: http://www.twitter.com/corbinball.  (Note: the “Corbin Ball Associates – Meetings Technology Headquarters” should be hyperlinked to http://www.corbinball.com.)

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    Thays Marques wrote a new post, Engaging event volunteers – sure it can’t be that hard … can it? 3 years, 11 months ago

    Over the last number of years I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the volunteer management team both working and volunteering at a number of large scale public events in Ireland, Northern Ireland and England. This is my day job … managing volunteers, I love it so much that I also volunteer to manage volunteers at events. Why do I give freely of my time you might ask? Well I’m passionate about volunteering, event volunteering in particular and as the national volunteer development agency and a support agency to volunteer agencies, for Volunteer Ireland it’s our bread and butter.

    Volunteers give freely of their time and want be part of these events. Wow, free staff…. happy days, ‘what could possibility go wrong?’ Well, just about everything if you don’t do it right…

    Firstly volunteers aren’t free, there are cost involved to engaging volunteers – it takes an investment of time, planning, resources – and there are of course some financial cost too. So why involve volunteers? It’s simple – volunteers are the face of your event or festival. A volunteer programme, when done right, connects with your local community and makes your attendees feel safe and informed.


    It may sound simple but small things go a long way, here just some of the things you can do to make sure that your volunteers are part of your event team:

    • Take the time to plan your exact volunteer requirements and their roles. All too often I’ve heard requests for volunteers in the hundreds when a group of 30 or 40 volunteers may be all that was actually needed. A role description with required outcomes will help you select the best volunteers for the role and help them achieve their potential.

    • Provide volunteer training to fully brief your volunteers about the event, their role, possible downtime and changes to their role during the day. Make it compulsory that volunteers attend if they want to be part of your event.

    • Empower your volunteers. Remember that volunteers may have experience and knowledge of a broad range of skills, including event management that can add to those of your own staff team. Work to their strengths, don’t just give them the crappy jobs that your staff don’t want to do. Volunteers perform their best when you encourage them to use their own initiative, trust them, and why would you do that? … well you recruited them based on a role description that you wrote.

    • Designate a Volunteer Manager. As an event organizer, you’ve got a hundred things to do and worry about during the event, so delegate the task of managing your volunteers to someone who is personable, a good communicator and empathetic, better still ask someone if they’d be interested in the role.

    • Provide your volunteers with adequate refreshments. Contrary to belief among some events, volunteers are humans and therefore require food, water and shelter. Depending on the length of your event they’ll need snacks, a hot meal and bottled water amongst other things.

    • Talk to your volunteers – don’t just dispatch them to the furthest reaches of your event site and expect them to enthusiastic minding a crowd control barrier all day long when they don’t engage anyone until 20 minutes before they leave, rotate your volunteers around location to keep them invigorated. They are your eyes and ears at the event, so make sure you have good communication channels that allow two-way communication so they to highlight to you any problems that may be occurring on the ground.

    • Say thank you. At the end of the day make sure you personally thank each volunteer for their contribution, check in with them for their immediate feedback and ask them about any issues that arose during the day. It’s a nice touch to give volunteers a small momento to show your appreciation of their time. Remember treat them well and they’ll come to back your event and talk about the positive experience they’ve had with you as an event organiser – free PR for you!

    • Listen to volunteers’ experience. After the event email your volunteers and ask them for their feedback via an online surveying tool. Make sure you again thank them for their contribution and act on their feedback, where you don’t or can’t act on their feedback let them know why.

    About the author:

    VIlogosmallerStuart Garland (@StuartGarland) works as Training & Programmes Manager of Volunteer Ireland, an organisation that provides a broad range of volunteer management supports to events and festivals to help them better manage their volunteers. From staff and volunteer training design and delivery through volunteer management software delivery to full on site volunteer programme management. For more information visit http://www.volunteer.ie and http://www.eventvolunteers.ie

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    Thays Marques wrote a new post, Crowd Risk Analysis and Crowd Safety 3 years, 11 months ago

    We have all experienced crowds, some good, some bad and some very frightening. If you have ever been swept off your feet in a crowd crush you will know how powerless you can feel in that situation. In this article, Professor Dr. G. Keith Still outlines the principles and applications of Crowd Risk Analysis and crowd modelling for places of public assembly. 

    Crowd Risk Analysis

    Over the last twenty-five years, we have been developing a practical approach to assessing the risks related to“Crowd Dynamics[1]”. The objective of this work is to define a hands-on methodology for risk assessment and to assist users in the recognition of risks related to overcrowding.

     What are the risks of crowd crushing?

    John Fruin wrote a paper in 1993 calledCauses and Prevention of Crowd Disasters[2]”. In this paper, published in 1993[3], he describes the underlying causes of crowd related accidents and incidents. Specifically, Fruinhighlights that the forces that can be exerted by a 3-5 people

    In an Australian Building Technology Centre study, three persons in a combined leaning and pushing posture developed a force of 1,370 N (306 lbs.). This study showed that five persons were capable of developing a force of 3,430 N (766 lbs.).

    In the same book, a paper by Hopkins called “Crowd Pressure Monitoring[4]” outlines dangerous crowd pressures:

    Firstly, death was estimated to have occurred 15 seconds after a load of 1,440 lbf (6,227N) was applied. ….it was estimated that death occurred after 4 – 6 minutes of applying a load of 2,50lbf (1,112N).

    We can see that it does not take a vast crowd to exert dangerous pressures.

    Some of the key questions we are often asked during lectures and workshops are:

    How many people can this space hold? What are the risks of crushing? How do we measure crowd risks during an event?

    The following visuals will help define the safety criteria for the above questions.

    Identifying risks of dangerous pressure

    The images below show the crowd density from 1 – 5 people per square metre, shown against two tennis courts (625 square metres 5m grids):

    Untitled-1 Untitled-2 Untitled-3 Untitled-4 Untitled-5

    When we look down on the crowd, we get a clearer perspective of crowd density. Even at five people per square metre, we do not appear to have physical contact between people in the crowd. There can be no crowd pressure without this physical contact.


    If you are planning an event, checking a plan, or involved in crowd management, you need to understand the risks of overcrowding; how and where overcrowding may occur and how to prevent dangerous overcrowding from developing. Maintaining low crowd density is critical to the principles and applications of crowd safety. This is a fundamental principle of crowd risk analysis. However, we need to clarify the difference between hazards and risks.

     Crowd Risk Analysis

    When preforming a risk analysis (specifically the risk of crowd crushing) you need to understand the concepts of “hazards and risks”. A hazard is a potential source of danger; a risk is a situation involving exposure to danger. Therefore, if the crowd density increases above five people per square metre (hazard) there is a significantly increased risk to life and limb (from crushing). We observe a number of phenomena occurring above five people per square meter, such as crowd surging, crowd collapse (the domino effect) all of which can have lethal consequences if left unchecked. It is essential, when planning for mass gatherings, that there is a competent person reviewing the risks. Therein lies the key issue – how do we define a competent person? Would simulations help? How can we ensure crowd safety in places of public assembly?

    We may never fully understand the mechanisms of fatal incidents, to do so would require extensive study and destructive testing of the crowd but we can define an approach to risk analysis and risk management, specifically the risks of overcrowding using a relatively simple set of analysis tools. To do this we need to understand the “redline”, the limits to crowd density in built and complex spaces.

    The RedlineUntitled-7

    Most vehicles are fitted with a tachometer or rev counter, which measures engine revolutions per second. The manufacturer will highlight (normally in red) the maximum speed at which the engine is designed to operate without causing damage. If you rev the engine above the Redline, the probability of failure increases significantly.

     Crowd density and crowd risk

    The equivalent of the rev counter, and the “redline”, for the crowd dynamic is crowd density, which is measured as the number of people per square metre. If the crowd density increases above a safe limit, the risk of crowd crushing and subsequent injuryincreases significantly. There are, of course, different limits for maximum crowd density and for both the standing and moving crowds. To understand the principles, we have a series of simple experiments, we’ve run these in classrooms around the world and it can help a team understand the concepts of crowd risks, and specifically the risk of crowd surging. To illustrate this we run a simple experiment in the classroom, which demonstrates the risks to a standing and moving crowd using a loop of string with an internal area of 1 square metre.

    Standing/static crowd risks

    We mark out 1 square metre on the ground and invite people to step into the square, one at a time, until it becomes uncomfortable (around 5 people per square metre). Then we add a few more people to the square. When the group in the crowd are packed to the extent that they are all in physical contact (around 6-7 people per square metre) any movement has a ripple (or domino) effect. We demonstrate this with a small push on one side of group, which results in the person at the far side of the group feeling a much larger effect. As each person shifts following the small push, his or her momentum adds to the effect. This is called a “shockwave” and in crowds, this can be extremely dangerous. However, shockwaves only occur when the density exceeds the safe limit. We have run this experiment with adults and which students, in some cases we can get 9-10 students in the square, in other cases only 5-6 adults. You need to understand the demographics of your crowd when evaluating the density limits. The principles should be self-apparent, but we recommend further reading on this specific topic.

     Dynamic/moving crowd risks

    There are a series of video clips on the website[1] that show the experiment for a moving crowd. Above three people per square metre, we note a significant drop in crowd speeds. From this we can define two redlines for crowd density risks.

    Static (standing crowds) – more than five people per square metre

    Dynamic (moving crowds) – more than three people per square metre

    It is essential to regulate crowd flow and space filling so that the crowd is not maintained below the “redline” and not exposed to risk of overcrowding. This is the principle of crowd risk management, realising the risk, and then managing the environment to prevent the crowd being exposed to those risks.

     What about the front of stage area?

    In areas, such as the front of stage at a concert, where the crowds will choose to pack to a much higher density, we need to monitor the crowd and have a contingency for assisting anyone in distress. This is the function of the front of stage pit crew.


    The crowd is monitored and the “pit crew” would be trained on how to recognize distress in the crowd and act accordingly. These are mainly static crowds, observing and enjoying the performance. When evaluating a moving crowd we need to expand on the principles of risk analysis and site evaluation.

    Risk analysis and site evaluation

    The objective is to prevent a dangerous situation developing and for that we recommend a simple approach to understanding the “redline” risks. We call this a RAMP analysis (Routes, Areas, Movement and Profile). We will describe this process step-by-step.

    RAMP analysis – routes

    Using a wide area site plan, determine which routes the crowd will take to get to the event. Typically, you can achieve this by reviewing the local transportation system, information that you can obtain from a variety of mapping tools freely available on the Internet.

    People will travel by train, bus, car or walk from local population centres. Determine where the transport terminals are located and evaluate the percentage of people using those routes from the transport system to the event. Prepare a routing diagram (illustrated below). Always walk the route, it helps you understand how people will move towards your event and can highlight areas where signage, information or stewards would assist the process of getting to your site.


    This diagram shows the train station to event space (a football victory parade through Manchester, UK). We can see that one side of the route is likely to fill first (and that there may be problems of filling the other side of the route. We can also see there is s section of the route with no pubic transport access. The routing diagram has highlighted a few important issues of where we may expect higher crowd densities. This indicates capacity planning, routing and crowd management issues.

    For example, there is a station very close the stadium (bottom left) we may need to consider closing this as the ingress (approaching crowds) will be limited by the train capacity, but the departing crowds will converge on the station and that could lead to dangerous overcrowding. This is redlining; we are not performing a detailed analysis, just reviewing the potential for overcrowding (how and when overcrowding may occur). The station near the stadium is too close, it may work for a stadium event, but there could be problems for a victory parade where people are gathered outside the stadium and along the route.

    Further analysis is required, such as

    How many people may use this station?
    What may we need to manage the egress process?
    How does egress function for a stadium event?
    Will the victory parade crowd be larger than the stadium capacity?

    That is the objective of redlining, to highlight the issues of this specific site, used for this specific mass gathering? One key element of this is to evaluate the available area.


    There are a variety of freemeasuring tools available on the Internet.They allow the user to measure the area for the site from a wide range of maps,plans, diagrams or satellite images (such as Google Earth). Below we have illustrated a city centre that was planned to host a parade, with market stalls and have a moving crowd (in the order of 60,000 – 90,000) throughout the day. We can evaluate the available space (grey = available space, and we need to remove the areas in green = stalls and the yellow = parade route). This left only 7,400 square metres. A rough estimate is that 2-3 people per square metre (freely moving around the site) would give us a capacity or approximately 14,800 to 22,000 people. We were expecting 60,000 – 90,000 people, a clear indication of a redline, the space is not big enough, we have a potential problem with this proposal.


    Static and dynamic spaces

    To assess crowd risks, we recommend a site be divided into static and dynamic spaces, those areas where the crowd is generally standing (static spaces) and observing the event and those areas where the crowd is generally going to be moving (dynamic spaces).

    There are event guidelines, which start with an evaluation of the total available area and then multiply this by 2 (for 2 people per square metre) this is a good starting point for the maximum capacity of the site. However, the event space will have predictable areas of high (static), low (dynamic) and underused (empty) spaces.

    It is important to understand how the space is going to be used and if any areas of the site are going to experience localised high density (and hence increased risk). You simply mark out these different areas on the site plan and measure them using any of the available area measurement tools. We can now evaluate the site risks and mark the plan accordingly, no more than 5 people per square metre on static spaces (this value will depend on the demographics of the crowd, family groups, buggies, back-packs will need more space, less density) and no more than 3 people per square metre on the dynamic spaces. We recommend that site maps, plans and diagrams clearly indicate these areas for planning and licensing or site approval purposes. You will need to evaluate if backpacks, buggies, family groups, picnic hampers, etc. will have an impact on space utilisation and hence the crowd density limits.


    Crowd safety is not only a function of how much space is being occupied, it also relates to how quickly those spaces may fill.Using the routing diagram, we can trace along the route and check any pinch points (or bottlenecks). By applying a “first pass” or rough cut capacity (RCCP) analysis we can assess the maximum flow rate though the system, which will be constrained by the flow at the narrowest point in the system.

    The RAMP analysis is a rough-cut capacity planning (RCCP) methodology similar to many different engineering disciplines. The objective of this process is to establish the potential problems, before the crowds move through the site and are exposed to potential risks. As with all risk analysis techniques, it is not enough to document the potential risks, it is essential to implement a risk management strategy to manage or mitigate those risks. We do that by applying a value of 82 people per metre per minute, which is the maximum sustainable crowd flow at optimal density (this is a low density, less than three people per square metre). The crowds may also arrive at different times for different events, such as a concert may experience early arrivals and a fireworks display or football match may experience last minute arrivals. Which brings us to the next part of the analysis, what type of crowds are we expecting at our event?


    We need to ascertain the demographic mix of the crowd and if there is any history of adverse behaviour for this location, crowd, performer or environment. There are a number of crowd classifications and crowd psychologists[1] have divided opinions on the various classifications. For crowd safety purposes we need to differentiate between the following types, each will have specific considerations for crowd safety management. The classifications we use are defined below:

    Casual – People coming and going; not organized but may be in loose groups. Casual crowds will accept direction from authority and aregenerally well behaved.

     Cohesive – Crowd assembled for a specific purpose or reason such as an event concert or performance. No leadership.

     Expressive – Crowd Gathering for a common purpose. Under loose leadership or following a particular motive. Not aggressive but sections of the crowd behaviour becoming mildly anti-social. Expressive crowds may require active involvement by authorities.


    Crowds engaged in acts of civil disobedience or direct action. Some sections may become aggressive and violent while other sections continue with different activities.


    Crowd retreating from or reacting to a dangerous situation. This can be caused by serious anti-social behaviour and/or emergencies.

    Using the above, evaluate the potential problems that may ben known in advance, of your crowd, in your space. If you have different classifications, make sure you have documented how these may affect your risk assessment and if there are specific management requirements (such as additional police resources).

    The way forward

    If you do nothing more than multiple the area by 2 (2 people per square metre) and evaluate egress based on exit capacity (total width of available exits multiplied by the optimal, low density, maximum crowd flow – 82 people per metre per minute) then you are doing nothing more than the minimum required for a risk analysis. You can expose the crowds to risks and you may be liable for any resulting harm caused to the crowd that can be traced back to negligent planning or approvals.

    Why is this important?

    The Hillsborough disaster occurred on 15 April 1989 at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. During the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs, a human crush resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuries to 766 others. As stated in the Hillsborough Report[2]:

    It is not enough to aim only at the minimum measures necessary for safety. That has been, at best, the approach in the past and too often not even that standard has been achieved.

    We have outlined a methodology that can apply to any place of public assembly. If you have responsibilities for organise, planning, managing or licensing crowded spaces. You may be interested in the Diploma in Crowd Science – Crowd Risk Analysis and Crowd Safety (Level 5). Contact us for further information (GKStill.com) – details are available on the website – http://www.GKStill.com.

    Just remember the crowd safety catch phrase.

    Never economise on information or forethought.

    About the Author
    Professor Dr. G. Keith Still FIMA FICPEM SFIIRSM is the Professor of Crowd Science (Crowd Risk Analysis and Crowd Safety) at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has spent the last 25 years working in the field of crowdrisk analysis and over 15 years teaching the principles and applications of crowd science. Keith develops and runs crowd safety-training workshops around the world. His book “Introduction to Crowd Science” outlines the development and application of crowd risk analysis for built and complex spaces. Keith is a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, a Fellow of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management and a Specialist Fellow of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management. He has also consulted on some of the world’s largest events, for example, the Jamarat Bridge, annual pilgrimage to Makkah (Saudi Arabia 2001 – 2005), the Royal Wedding (UK, 2011) and Olympic events  (Sydney 2000 and London 2012).

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