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E3S 2018: Collaboration key to securing the industry’s future

The Manchester Arena bombing of 22 May 2017 was a “game-changer” from a counter-terrorism perspective, laying bare the importance of a strong private security presence to combat the growing threat to ‘soft’ targets such as concerts, said Metropolitan police commander Lucy D’Orsi, opening the second edition of the Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S) on 30 October.

The Met’s deputy assistant commissioner in specialist operations gave a 15-minute welcome address in which she said the Manchester attack – along with the vehicle ramming attacks in Westminster and on London Bridge in March and June 2017, respectively – proved that “anything is potentially a target; anything is possible”.

D’Orsi’s address kicked off a packed day of panels, presentations and workshops for the sophomore E3S, which boasted more than double the content of last year’s debut event. More than 300 professionals from 20 markets attended the day.

Other highlights included a speech by Lord Kerslake, author of the eponymous inquiry into the Manchester Arena attack, who presented the key findings and recommendations of his report; panel sessions on ‘Protecting the Future of Live Events’, which examined what initiatives are helping develop an international safety culture, and ‘Learning Transferrable Lessons’, which considered operations from the World Cup to state visits by US presidents to learn lessons from each scenario; and a host of talks and workshops covering security training, emergency messaging, behavioural detection, lockdown procedures and more.

Lord Kerslake described the Manchester Arena bombing – the deadliest terrorist attack in the UK since the 7/7 bombings of 2005 – as a “brutal, real-world test” of the venue’s security procedures.

The Manchester Arena bombing was a “brutal, real-world test” of the venue’s security procedures

He identified four key lessons event organisers and venues should learn from the tragedy: That his review, commissioned by mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, was “the right thing to do, and should become standard practice in future”; that “importance of partnerships” between stakeholders, as well as thorough emergency planning, “cannot be overstated”; that a “genuinely multi-agency approach” is needed in case of emergency (“even in strong partnerships, the tendency of agencies under pressure to default to a single-agency way of working is extremely strong,” he explained); and that however good those plans are, “the reality will be different. There is no substitution for good situational awareness and discretion.”

As terrible as the attack was, Lord Kerslake concluded, had it taken place ten minutes later – when more young fans were exiting the arena – the outcome would have even worse. “We cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.

A key theme of the E3S 2018 was the importance of openness among stakeholders and the ability – and will – to share crucial information.

The O2 head of operations Danielle Kennedy-Clark said the live events industry needs to get better at sharing data with each other. “As a venue,” she commented, “we have a very close relationship with local authorities and other stakeholders […] but I do still feel a lot of the time security is seen as a big secret. We’re getting better but there’s still a long way to come.”

Tony Duncan, who works as tour security director for artists including U2, Madonna, Rihanna and Sir Paul McCartney, said the events security landscape is currently “fractured at best”, tending to “react to big events”. The industry could, he suggested, benefit from “formalis[ing] procedures across the board”.

“A lot of the time security is seen as a big secret”

One popular presentation at E3S was a preview of the new Green Guide, given by Ken Scott of the Sports Grounds Safety Authority. Scott also spoke about how his organisation, formerly the Football Licensing Authority, was formed after the Hillsborough disaster to “sit over the top of all those competing commercial entities [football clubs] and take the best bits of each, which you [the entertainment industry] don’t have”. “Maybe you need something similar,” he said.

The SEC’s Jeanette Roberts, a former inspector for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), suggested there could be an HSE-style government agency to set security standards industry wide. With HSE, she explained, “what they did was reach out to the industry for their knowledge – it was a brave step for the agency to go and say, ‘We need your help’.”

From a police perspective, D’Orsi concluded by saying it’s a long-term police goal to share as much information on threats as possible with venues and private security companies. Addressing delegates, she said: “Many of you represent iconic locations and events which are often broadcast live – and if you look at the propaganda put out by ISIL [Islamic State], Al-Qaeda and other groups, you are attractive targets.

“There will be less policing at live events in future – but the ambition to share as much as we can with you is very strong, and I’m confident we will achieve that.”

 


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Case study: How to safely increase customer numbers and standing floor capacity

For the last three years, MOM Consultancy has been working with some of the largest venues in Europe on various projects including changing barrier configurations at events, testing plans at major stations, supporting new plan implementation at sporting and music events and facilitating the uplift of standing floor capacities. The latter of these has been a revelation for the company and helped MOM to understand the complex integration of safety and security needed in such projects.

In all projects, the customer has to be the focus. Realising the full benefit to the customer and also the primary key stakeholder needs to be met is a fine balance between customer care, safety, security and increased income. Many approaches to projects are based primarily on a profit motive whilst others are made putting the customer and the centre of development. The secondary type of approach enhances the whole experience and does not just focus on tangible quick wins. Two examples of clients who have put the customer at the very centre of their developments are the Echo Arena in Liverpool and the O2 Arena in London.

In this article we are going to focus on the O2 Arena as a case study and their three-year project to uplift the standing floor capacity whilst ensuring key benefits to the customer. To enhance the project MOM felt it pertinent to bring in a health and safety expert from ACT, Chris Hall, to provide expertise in an area where MOM does not work but is essential to understanding what is legal and practicably possible in relation to guidance, fire safety standards and other key precepts. Working alongside firstly Steve Gotkine, and then with Danielle Kennedy Clark, the seamless continuum was of paramount importance – it took three years from the start to the finish of this remarkable journey.

The project started with a series of familiarisation sessions to ensure that the team were au fait with the venue; this included visits to events, a review of plans, guidance used and health, safety and crowd management aspects, as well as interviews with a cross section of staff and a customer survey. By triangulating the plans with the surveys and observations, the team were able to put together a plan which tested the outcomes requested by the O2 management. The key aspect was spending time with the team watching how they prepared for events, their training protocols and the implementation of plans at the venue. Creating an understanding of how the venue worked, what made the audience and staff tick and what possible additions would support customer perceptions of care were all-important.

The delivery of the uplift in numbers utilised both a qualitative and quantitative approach, and one which would turn out to be a gradual testing and monitoring process from the initial numbers to the new density. Some may feel that a three-year testing period is a long time to finally implement the requested and agreed uplift, but due to the venue’s duty of care and ethical approach everything needed to be right to ensure the buy-in of every stakeholder involved.

The process was initiated by a debate: Firstly, a debate about the efficacy of increasing the number on the venue standing floor and how this would look given the shape and structure of the venue. The second debate was around the venue’s present structure and how this would cope with the obvious uplift and whether the existing structures were adequate to support such changes. Once this had been identified, preliminary meetings were held with the fire consultants to view the fire plan and what the envelope surrounding the plan provided. Deep and testing conversations were held and also secondary reviews held to test the envelope, which proved sound.

The key to all deliberations with a venue is openness and the will to succeed

The consultants then worked on the figures creating a series of options, each of which had a number of caveats. Each caveat was related to the idea that for each calculation the management team would have to consider changes to the venue to facilitate the numbers.

Chris Hall worked on the figures, while Chris Kemp worked on the psychosocial aspects of the staff and crowd and what their appetite was for change. How likely did they feel that an uplift in floor capacity was the right thing for the venue? The results of the conversations were positive and the interesting piece was the difference in the appetite for risk both among staff and also the audience. These reports were written up and presented back as part of the final report.

Delivering such reports and ensuring that they meet exacting standards is difficult, as the safety and security of all stakeholders must be the first concern. Any changes proposed by the team in conjunction with the venue management team have responsibility and accountability attached to them – so this is not a light touch, but rather a complex integration of qualitative and quantitative factors resulting in the possible reshaping of the venue or unforeseen changes which, of course, can have knock on effects.

The key to all deliberations with a venue is openness and the will to succeed, as in a carefully structured and trusting client/consultant relationship. This is based on respect and that each individual brings something special to the table that may result in a better than hoped for outcome, especially in the competitive arena environment.

The initial project took five months to complete and at the end of the process provided an outcome which could then be taken to the council’s planning team. This nerve-racking process can be very testing unless, like our combined team had done, answered every question that we knew that we would be asked in the presentation to the council. From this presentation there were few questions, and the joint delivery by MOM and the O2 went down well, showing a finely integrated strategy and operational delivery.

A number of recommendations were then made by the council which resulted in the O2 team having to take the results to the board and provide them with a specification and costing, which included a cost-benefit analysis. MOM also made a number of recommendations which were accepted by the council – these were all related to health and safety activities and the gradual increase in capacity until the final capacity was reached. A further recommendation was that the O2 worked on a case-by-case basis with the increase and not as a blanket for every event, taking into consideration holdback of tickets, artist and audience profiling, the A-Guide and the resultant templates for gigs and other salient information.

The process to reach this desired density was a long but necessary procedure

The management team’s understanding of their customer base is very deep and they can usually predict how an event will go and how the customer will act. This is key to the unified and positive outcomes of any event. However, the team is only as good as their weakest person and the O2 assiduously provide training for their teams at all levels to ensure that all members are working towards their true potential, thus creating a culture of safety across the organisation.

Following the work that the O2 carried out with MOM, the O2 team were confident that they were moving in the right direction and it was safe to embark and introduce their first change in the floor density for the arena. After they had completed a thorough risk assessment for the forthcoming shows, they introduced the first density change in October 2015. The standard floor density that the venue had worked with for a number of years was altered from a .4 to a .39 density. On average the venue operated a minimum of 15 shows at the .39 density before reducing the density further. Following each show the team, led by Danielle, monitored, debriefed and reviewed the standing floor footage of the event and obtained detailed feedback from the staff on the ground. They continued to risk assess each event before implementing any changes to the density. The desired safe density that Danielle and her team were working towards was .36.

The process to reach this desired density was a long but necessary procedure. This ensured that the team had considered and fully evaluated the risks and continued to work towards the desired outcome. Over the three-year process they continually liaised with their licensing authority on the progress that was being made. Danielle and her team are now coming towards the end of our their evaluations and working at the lower density levels, Due to this process, the standard floor numbers have increased on average by 10% for each event. However, what is very clear is that the time taken over the process and alterations made inside the venue have been supported by a strong health and safety underpinning to their approach.

Changes like this are not to taken lightly – but if venues have the patience to deliver without considering the financial benefits, but concentrate on whether such a development will be safe, is crucial in ensuring the resilience and longevity of such changes.

 


Professor Chris Kemp is the founder, CEO and owner of Mind over Matter ConsultancyDanielle Kennedy-Clark is director of operations at the O2 London.

Final sessions revealed as E3S countdown begins

With just three weeks to go until the sophomore Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S) kicks off in London, organisers have revealed the final two conference sessions for the event.

As previously reported, the agenda for the second E3S – which takes place on 30 October at the new, larger venue of London’s Congress Centre – is more than twice as large as last year’s debut, with highlights including a welcome address by Met police deputy assistant commissioner Lucy D’Orsi; a presentation by Manchester Arena attack inquiry author Lord Kerslake; and panels including Protecting the Future of Live Events, which examines what initiatives are helping develop an international safety culture, Learning Transferrable Lessons, which considers operations from the World Cup to state visits by US presidents to learn lessons from each scenario.

With the final conference sessions, E3S 2018 now boasts 35 speakers and 22 separate sessions that stretch across the worlds of security and safety.

The new sessions are:

More than 300 delegates, including leading international venue, festival, touring, sport and security professionals, are expected to attend this year’s conference.

For more information, including the full conference agenda, or to register for the day, visit the E3S website.

 


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Conference agenda for E3S 2018 revealed

Organisers of the Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S) have revealed the agenda for the second edition of the conference, more than doubling the number of discussion topics and presentations from last year’s debut.

The invitation-only event takes place on 30 October at the Congress Centre in central London, with over 400 delegates expected to attend, and brings together leading international venue, festival, touring, sport and security professionals.

Highlights from the 2018 agenda include:

Other panels focus on topics including flexible solutions to in-work training, while presentation topics include the threat to crowded spaces, prioritising risk to events, integrated safety and security planning, the crowd as participatory threat sensors, working with group psychology in emergencies, trends in behavioural detection and the revolution in event incident logging.

“This year’s agenda builds substantially on last year’s sold-out event,” says ILMC head and E3S organiser Greg Parmley. “With 20 topics announced and more to come over the coming weeks, E3S sits at the centre of where safety, security and live events intersect.”

E3S is produced in close collaboration with the MOM Consultancy, European Arenas Association (EAA), National Arenas Association (NAA) and Association of Event Venues (AEV), with input from leading live event security companies, theatre and festival organisations.

The full agenda, and further event information can be viewed online at www.e3s.world.

 


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