Event management: get ahead of the crowd

Organising an event where a large number of people are expected to attend is a big challenge for any business.

Formulating an effective crowd management and traffic control strategy can be daunting, but is a vital part of planning any event. Here, we run through some of the measures that need to be undertaken to successfully manage crowds for events.

Risk Assessment

As an early priority, you need to establish that you can manage crowd safety for the type of event and at the venue you have chosen. One of the main legal responsibilities of the coordinator is to ensure the safety of the public attending the event, as well as for those who might be affected by the event in any way.

To minimise risk of overcrowding, you need to do a preliminary walk around the venue with a number of key factors in mind – it is essential to carry out a visual inspection to gain an idea of any possible hazards. This can include:

  • Estimating the size of the venue
  • Forecasting how many people there will be
  • Questioning whether you have enough room to allow for extra people
  • What risks could harm the attendees?

These factors are essential to find out both the suitability and the acceptable level of crowd density for your event.

For example, a sporting event such as a football match requires the designation of a Safety Officer responsible for the operation at the stadium on match days. Actions they might take can include the use of physical barriers to keep people in designated areas, posting signs to direct crowds or the provision of netting placed over rows of seats to separate supporters of opposing teams.

Taking measures like these can mitigate risk to persons attending the event. Undertaking a risk assessment of the venue is therefore a crucial part for any pre-planning stage to ensure the event runs smoothly.

Traffic Control

Organising incoming traffic can be a huge challenge. It’s important to try and make the process as smooth as possible in order to avoid traffic snarls and parking issues. There are several key factors which need to be considered when devising your traffic control strategy.

  • Is there enough space in the existing car park?
  • Is the layout of roads to the event adequate enough to deal with the expected turnout?
  • Can you arrange other transportation options for people attending the event?

The Olympic Committee for example, recognised early on that creating strong transport links in and around the Olympic Park in East London was vital to the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They worked closely with rail and bus links to help reduce congestion.

Considering other transportation options and parking facilities is a good way to reduce the number of cars coming into the event. However, you still need to consider the implications this will have. If people are using trains and buses you will have more people coming in on foot so you will need to keep pedestrians and cars separate to avoid accidents. This can usually be achieved with safety barriers such as concrete blocks or Heras fencing.

Careful use of barriers and clear signage can also help to reduce the number of queues. Using strategically placed concrete barriers ensures that vehicles go where you want them to go, helping with the flow of traffic and subsequently leading to a better experience all round.


Where appropriate, representatives of relevant bodies, such as local authorities and emergency services, should be brought into the planning process. If security is required at the event, then it is important to consider the Private Security Industry Act 2001- it is a legal responsibility of the organiser to ensure that licences are held by those carrying out licensable activity. These include:

  • Screening a person’s suitability to enter the event or venue
  • Individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs or demonstrating anti-social behaviour
  • Protecting a pitch, track or other identifiable area from spectators

If there is an elevated risk to security, then precautions such as CCTV and security guards may be necessary to ensure everything is kept under control.


The final element is to review all activities and reflect on the arrangements you have put in place to manage crowd safety. Try to get all employees involved to discuss any issues that are likely to arise; this may help to identify undetected problems.

These basic steps will put you on the right track towards a well-planned and smoothly run event. However, managing crowd safety is a complex task and if you are in any doubt, you should seek advice from a events management professional.