Quite early on in the planning process for your event you decide on a location. Where do you want to organise your event? Will it be indoors or outdoors? Close to a city centre and public transport links or will it take place in the middle of nowhere? When you have decided on a location for your event you should conduct a site survey.
A site survey is an assessment of all the aspects of an event that are likely to impact your crowd safety management plan. Why is a site survey important? Well, it enables your crowd safety management provider to determine whether they can implement a plan with the resources available to them. So your site survey is the basis for your event safety plan.
Ideally you, the event planner, should be there when you conduct a site survey because I think you need to understand your site. But it is your crowd management provider that needs to have a really good look and tell you what potential obstacles are already present at your event site. Based on your initial visit you can start working on you site survey. How will you get rid off potential obstacles or how can you minimize their impact? As you can tell, your site survey will have an impact on your risk assessment.
Conducting a site survey
Things you need to keep in mind when conducting a site survey:
Audience. Who is coming to your event? Do you have a visitor profile? There’s a difference between a seated audience and an audience that is in motion. Look at the demographics of your visitors: age and gender are important ones to look at.
Capacity. How many people do you expect? How many people do you know for sure will turn up? The size of your event site is determined by how any people you expect at your event. Capacity and the size of your event site will determine the layout of your event. You need to think how people will move around on your event site. Are there any bottlenecks that impact the crowd flow?
Layout. Whether your event is indoor or outdoor you need to think carefully about the layout of your event site. Quite often cloakrooms are a bottleneck at indoor venues. In nightclubs for example they form a bottleneck as everyone is collecting their coats more or less at the same time. At conferences cloakrooms are often a bottleneck as everyone arrives at the same time, all wanting to get rid off their coats. A festival I visited had their token booths right behind the entrance. Queues for the token booths meant also queues for the entrance.
Ingress and egress. How many entrances do you have at your event? How many doors, turnstiles, or gates do visitors need to go through before they are actually on your event site? The Event Safety Guide and the Guide for Safety at Sports Grounds offer calculations that can help you determine your entrance and exit width. When you eventually do your site design (after your site survey) you need to calculate your evacuation time. Based on that you need to figure out how many exits you need to have.
Gross and net floor space. An empty room might look very big and can give you the illusion that you can sell more tickets. Calculate the gross floor capacity. After that you need to calculate the space occupied by bars, food stands, entrances, toilets, market stalls, first aid, production offices, etc. How much floor space have you still left to play with? That is the net floor space, the space that can be occupied by visitors. Be careful in your assumptions!
Calculate and plan your event carefully. When you conduct a site survey you need to think of health, safety, and logistical aspects. Think of the well-being of your visitors and not just the financial gains you can make by selling a few more tickets.
For more information about safety at events visit my online workshop Event Safety on my website.