Hardening Mass Gatherings

By Carlton Purvis, Published on May 06, 2013

Hardening mass gatherings is inherently challenging yet increasingly important. As the Boston bombing demonstrated, doing so is hard over the large areas and crowds. In this note, we share recommendations from Jim McGee [link no longer available], Senior Program Manager at The Soufan Group [link no longer available].

McGee has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience, much of it working on international security issues and infrastructure protection. He is also an adjunct professor at the Tulane University Department of Homeland Security Studies and a former member of the National Center for Spectator Sport Safety and Security at the University of Southern Mississippi.  We talked by phone about what it takes to harden marathons, large venues and mass gatherings while McGee was on his way to a meeting with the Brazilian delegation for the 2014 World Cup. 

The Largest Venue of All: The Marathon

McGee helped plan the 2004 Summer Olympics marathon in Athens and the Commonwealth Games in India in 2010. Despite having more than 20 miles to secure, he says, it is not impossible to harden a marathon route. “You have a 26-mile long venue. That is going to make it a hard target to protect, and it can be easily perceived as a very soft target which is what terrorists are looking for,” McGee said.

“What I’ve seen work well is the implementation of mounted law enforcement deployed along the route,” McGee said. “You have officers that are elevated above the ground and it’s great for crowd management as well. Most large Police Departments have the capability to place officers on horseback.”

He also said assessment teams, made up of federal agents and local law enforcement should be on the ground providing the eyes and ears for authorities. They can keep an eye out for suspicious activity and can get a closer look at people who may have been spotted by officers on horseback, from other observation posts or security cameras.

Some other suggestions include keeping standoff distance between runners and spectators, placing elevated observations posts along the route and reducing areas where IEDs can be discreetly placed.  “You don’t want to have any trash cans without a sealed lid on them or parked vehicles along the route,” McGee says. 

His strongest advice for securing marathons, however, is to replicate a tradition from the Olympic Games: Begin and end the marathon in a stadium. “That’s going to help security because you can eliminate backpacks, have control over who has access to the event and have standoff distances away from the runners by having people sit in the stands ... I know some runs are iconic and want to maintain the route they’ve always had but I think it’s worth it from a safety perspective to try to end it in a stadium or an arena.” 

McGee says there is a formula that can be applied to secure any major event:

Threat Assessment

Securing mass gatherings starts with a reliable threat assessment, McGee says. “You need to know what the situation is in the area, what are the things that may impact your event.” These can be anything from gang activity to political unrest to natural disasters. 

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Leading up to the event the assessment should be updated at regular intervals that become more frequent as the event gets closer. By the time of the event, organizers and security should be getting threat assessments multiple times a day and at least once each shift. 

Venue Risk Assessment

A risk assessment of the venue should be conducted early on in order to identify potential vulnerabilities in the emergency response plan, venue security and overall event operations. If security gaps are detected, corrective actions must be implemented to address the vulnerability.

Emergency Response Plans

Threat assessments are not predictions. A large part of preparedness is having a response protocol in the form of an Emergency Response Plan (ERP). ERPs should include specific sections on procedures for different scenarios like bomb threats, terrorism, public health or hazmat incidents and evacuations.

Training

After plans are developed and Risk Assessments are completed, event organizers should train and hold response drills for the different scenarios.  “You have to test your personnel. That’s when you’ll find additional gaps in physical security, cyber security and response plans,” McGee says. “After training and exercise you must fill those gaps as well through corrective actions.” 

Implementation

This is the last part of the formula where everything planned up until the event is put into place. After the event it is critical that an After Action Review is done to discuss what went right and what went wrong during the event. Then the process starts all over in the form of a continuous improvement cycle.

Comments (2) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Access Control and Video Integration Statistics 2020 on Oct 08, 2020
Video Surveillance and Access Control are two of the most common security...
"He Is An Idiot!" Exclaims SIA Director John Mack on Mar 23, 2020
Here is another inside look into the "leaders" of the security industry. SIA...
Multilaser / Giga Security Brazil Company Profile on Oct 05, 2020
As part of our expanded Latin America coverage, IPVM is profiling regional...
Bosch Presents MIC 7100 Extreme PTZs on May 21, 2020
Bosch presented its MIC 7100 Extreme PTZs at the April 2020 IPVM New Products...
China's SMIC Hit By US Trade Restrictions, Impact On Video Surveillance on Oct 13, 2020
US trade restrictions have hit Semiconductor Manufacturing International...
Manufacturers And Reed Speak on Planned July 2020 ISC West on Mar 11, 2020
Last week, the drama of the March 2020 ISC West cancellation transfixed much...
Integrators Hard Hit By Coronavirus on Mar 18, 2020
Integrators are already being hard hit by Coronavirus as brand new IPVM...
The German Company Powering Many China Temperature Tablets (Heimann) on Aug 12, 2020
Many fever tablet suppliers market German-made Heimann thermal sensors while...
Optris "Fever Screening Systems" Examined on Jun 01, 2020
German manufacturer Optris has been building temperature measuring...
2020 Mid Year Video Surveillance Industry Guide on Jul 27, 2020
The first half of 2020 has been shocking, for the world generally, and for...
Integrated IR Camera Shootout 2020 - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Uniview, Vivotek on Jan 30, 2020
The best and worst cameras tested in this IPVM shootout showed major...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Aug 13, 2020
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video...
Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London...
Temperature Screening Is Ineffective, Says US, UK, Canada, Israel, And Ireland Health Leaders on Aug 25, 2020
Health leaders around the world are increasingly speaking out about the...
Mobotix Thermal Detection Camera Tested on Jun 09, 2020
For years Mobotix has struggled but now sales are surging driven by Mobotix's...

Recent Reports

Bedside Cough and Sneeze Detector (Sound Intelligence and CLB) on Oct 28, 2020
Coronavirus has increased interest in detecting symptoms such as fever and...
Fever Tablet Thermal Sensors Examined (Melexis) on Oct 28, 2020
Fever tablet suppliers heavily rely on the accuracy and specs of...
Verkada Fires 3 on Oct 28, 2020
Verkada has fired three employees over an incident where female colleagues...
Recruiters Online Show LIVE Thursday! on Oct 27, 2020
IPVM's 7th online show resumes Thursday with 12 recruiters presenting...
Eagle Eye Networks Raises $40 Million on Oct 27, 2020
Eagle Eye has raised $40 million aiming to "reinvent video...
Hikvision Q3 2020 Global Revenue Rises, US Revenue Falls on Oct 27, 2020
While Hikvision's global revenue rises driven by domestic recovery, its US...
VICE Investigates Verkada's Harassing "RawVerkadawgz" on Oct 26, 2020
This month, IPVM investigated Verkada's sexism, discrimination, and cultural...
Six Flags' FDA Violating Outdoor Dahua Fever Cameras on Oct 26, 2020
As Six Flags scrambled to reopen parks amid plummeting revenues caused by the...
ISC Brasil Digital Experience 2020 Report on Oct 23, 2020
ISC Brasil 2020 rebranded itself to ISC Digital Experience and, like its...
Top Video Surveillance Service Call Problems 2020 on Oct 23, 2020
3 primary and 4 secondary issues stood out as causing the most problems when...
GDPR Impact On Temperature / Fever Screening Explained on Oct 22, 2020
What impact does GDPR have on temperature screening? Do you risk a GDPR fine...
Security And Safety Things (S&ST) Tested on Oct 22, 2020
S&ST, a Bosch spinout, is spending tens of millions of dollars aiming to...
Nokia Fever Screening Claims To "Advance Fight Against COVID-19" on Oct 22, 2020
First IBM, then briefly Clorox, and now Nokia becomes the latest Fortune 500...
Deceptive Meridian Temperature Tablets Endanger Public Safety on Oct 21, 2020
IPVM's testing of and investigation into Meridian Kiosk's temperature...
Honeywell 30 Series and Vivotek NVRs Tested on Oct 21, 2020
The NDAA ban has driven many users to look for low-cost NVRs not made by...