People don't ask me this as bluntly as the title suggests, but in general I get a blank look when I tell people I work in "crowd safety". I ask them if they have ever attended an event and arrived safely, were gently guided into the venue, found their seat/place with ease, watched the show and then gently guided out of the venue back to their mode of transport, barely noticing their journey as they were enthralled in a conversation with friends? That's crowd safety, I declare. If we're doing it right, you don't notice we're there.
Crowd Safety takes into account the safe movement of crowds from the moment they arrive on site, to the moment they head off home. Crowd Safety encompasses not only the stewards in hi-viz, but communications, live information on social media, tickets, train schedule that day, political environment, audience profile, location of the venue, arrival time, search policy, site/venue design, layout of the stage, security measures, seating capacity, sale of alcohol, genres of the line-up and dare I say it, the number and location of toilets!
Crowd Safety as a concept has evolved rapidly over the years and is becoming a subject matter in of itself. There are different terms used to describe this work including; crowd science, crowd management, crowd control as well as crowd safety. So let us start at the very beginning, as it's a very good place to start, I will offer definitions of these terms.
But first, what is a Crowd?
A crowd can be defined as a large gathering of diverse people in the same physical location, at the same time, not necessarily sharing the same goal or interest (Wijermans, 2011).
people in a crowd can shift from individual separation to sharing a common social identity, where their behaviour shifts, becoming a “psychological crowd” (Neville et al, 2020).
"..study of the effect of density, dynamics and behaviour on a crowd and crowd safety" (Still, 2020)
“the systematic planning for, and supervision of, the orderly movement and assembly of people” (Fruin, 1993)
“The restriction or limitation of group behaviour” (Fruin, 1993)