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How the Astroworld tragedy could have been prevented with the right physical security solutions




Astroworld Festival, an annual rap music event held in Texas, appears to be one of the deadliest crowd-control disasters at a concert in the United States in recent years. Unarguably, eight deaths and dozens of injuries, caused by a crowd surge, could have been prevented with the proper combination of technology and manpower. Sadly, enough measures were not taken, resulting in the loss of lives of fans and millions of dollars in legal liabilities.

To begin with, poor crowd control in large public gatherings must be addressed with advanced solutions that help avoid stampedes and alert authorities when the crowd rushes in the same direction. These architectures can also assist promoters, venue managers, and local authorities in mitigating the threat of terrorism and other criminal activity, which are often attracted by these type of events.

Smart crowd control can increase safety and improve attendee experience by efficaciously monitoring, directing, and managing large groups of people. With the use of intelligent technologies such as AI-powered cameras, facial recognition, bomb detection devices, video analytics, and mass communication systems, situational awareness can be reinforced and tragedies can be averted.

Certainly, it is key to rely on an expert security integrator to implement the solutions that best fit the needs of the site, as a combination of multiple disciplines is necessary to manage all aspects of crowd dynamics. Besides conducting a risk assessment, these are a few solutions that might be required:

Infrared cameras — Counting people in real-time typically becomes inefficient when the crowd is dense. However, with thermal cameras, high accuracy of the estimation of the crowd density is possible.

Facial Recognition — It is an effective biometric identification system that recognizes facial features in an attempt to uniquely distinguish an individual and track criminals in the venue. Further, AI-based cameras can flag suspicious and violent behavior.

Motion sensors — These are needed to monitor traffic patterns, identify the busiest areas of the arena, and detect stampedes.

Video analytics — This solution enables concert managers to quickly and easily search and filter, understand trends, stimulate intelligent decision-making, develop helpful strategies, and implement the right contingency plans.

In addition, these are some security components that need to be considered:

  • Does the density of the expected crowd exceed the guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)?
  • Is there enough capacity for the number of tickets sold?
  • What is the exit availability?
  • Is there enough avenues of egress for attendees?
  • Is there enough staff for the event?
  • What will likely be the energy of the crowd at that event? Does it require breaking large groups into smaller groups?
  • What can be a possible catalyst to cause the crowd to rush in the same direction?
  • Is Pod seating (allowing fans to buy tickets as a group) being considered as part of a crowd management strategy, while promoting social distancing and keeping the audience safe?

Establishing safety procedures and taking an efficient approach to crowd management with first-class technologies is an excellent way to improve security for entertainment venues and prevent tragedies from happening.