How to organise big events?

Last weekend, a fire at a nightclub in Bucharest (Romania) killed at least 27 and injured many more. Up to 400 people may have been inside the club, which was hosting a rock concert. One of the two emergency exits was blocked. In September this year a stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, killed more than 700 people and injured nearly 900 others in Saudi Arabia. These are only two examples how large events can go terribly wrong.

With the growth of the economy and increase in leisure time, the number of large sports, cultural and music events increase. Event logistics provide an event concept in a safe and service oriented environment. Unfortunately practice shows that in many cases the larger the event gets, the lower the service level and reduction in safety. Delivering a large event and at the same time meeting safety requirements for visitors is for many organisers a tough problem. Safety is often perceived as a burden.

Event logistics concerns the planning, coordination, the actual service delivery and the control during the planning, execution and evaluation of this planned event. In event logistics there are five main logistics processes: supply of customers, supply of goods, supply of facilities, event site logistics and event shutdown. In the supply of customers, the transportation to the site, queuing, and ticketing are examples of sub processes. In the supply of goods, the transportation, receiving and estimation of needs are examples of sub processes. Supply of facilities includes processes such as security, power, water, contractors, etc. The event site logistics are the logistics activities during the event itself, covering processes such as flow of artists and equipment, VIP and media requirements, communication, crowd management, crowd control, emergency procedures, etc. Finally the event shutdown covers processes such as removal and cleaning.

What are risks we can identify and the logistics consequences?

With large events, traffic congestions can occur around the event site. The logistics consequence would be to organise extra busses, trains and coordination with highway authorities. With air shows, possible accidents can occur and big fires. Therefore the access of the site by the fire brigade and ambulances is important. With large football events, vandalism, violence, disturbance of the public order can occur. Certain routes will be closed for groups of supporters and space will be created for police and riot police squad. Large public events with VIPs, need to be protected from possible attacks, which requires blocking certain areas and routes. Large concerts have the risks of visitors pressed against racks and walls as well as stampede. This requires crowd control and supply of fencing and routes for people that are wounded, as well as proper escape routes in case of evacuation.

To enhance the safety of events, structural causes of unsafe situations have to be removed where possible. Second, preventive measures are implemented to minimise the chance of incidents and escalation of incidents. Third, preparations are made to combat incidents effectively. Then of course people have to be well trained and prepared for actual incident management. Finally, measures are necessary to bring back the situation to ‘normal’, after an incident.

The government has an important function to issuing permits for large events and reviewing if plans of the event organisers are C4: correct, consistent, complete and clear.