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

Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Jun 18, 2020
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video...
Optris "Fever Screening Systems" Examined on Jun 01, 2020
German manufacturer Optris has been building temperature measuring...
Bosch Presents MIC 7100 Extreme PTZs on May 21, 2020
Bosch presented its MIC 7100 Extreme PTZs at the April 2020 IPVM New Products...
Leica Presents AI LIDAR / Thermal / Visible Camera (BLK247) on May 06, 2020
Leica presented its AI multispectral BLK247 camera at the April 2020 IPVM New...
JCI Slashes ISC West Booth 88.8% on Mar 05, 2020
The mega-booth at the main entrance of the ISC West show floor is now...
Last Chance - Spring 2020 IP Networking Course - Register Now on May 06, 2020
This is the last chance to register for the only networking course designed...
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...
Milestone Presents XProtect On AWS on May 04, 2020
Milestone presented its XProtect on AWS offering at the April 2020 IPVM New...
"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...
ZeroEyes Presents Firearm Detection Video Analytics on Jul 09, 2020
ZeroEyes presented its Firearm detection Video Analytics system at the May...
Video Surveillance History on May 06, 2020
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going...
Camera Course Summer 2020 - Last Chance on Jul 18, 2020
This is your last chance to register for the Summer 2020 Camera Course. This...
Integrators Avoiding Coronavirus Air Travel on May 29, 2020
IPVM asked integrators if air travel is part of their 2020 plans to see how...
Mobiqam Presents Battery Powered & Quick Setup Video Surveillance on Jun 12, 2020
Mobiqam presented its battery-powered, quick setup video surveillance system...
Access Control Course Spring 2020 - Register Now - Last Chance on Apr 21, 2020
IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the...

Recent Reports

Dangerous Hikvision Fever Camera Showcased by Chilean City on Aug 07, 2020
Deploying a fever camera outdoors, in the rain, with no black body, is...
"Grand Slam" For Pelco's PE Firm, A Risk For Motorola on Aug 07, 2020
The word "Pelco" and "grand slam" have not been said together for many years....
FLIR Stock Falls, Admits 'Decelerating' Demand For Temperature Screening on Aug 07, 2020
Is the boom going to bust for temperature screening? FLIR disappointed...
VSaaS Will Hurt Integrators on Aug 06, 2020
VSaaS will hurt integrators, there is no question about that. How much...
Dogs For Coronavirus Screening Examined on Aug 06, 2020
While thermal temperature screening is the surveillance industry's most...
ADT Slides Back, Disappointing Results, Poor Commercial Performance on Aug 06, 2020
While ADT had an incredible start to the week, driven by the Google...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all of the...
SIA Coaches Sellers on NDAA 889B Blacklist Workarounds on Aug 05, 2020
Last month SIA demanded that NDAA 899B "must be delayed". Now that they have...
ADI Returns To Growth, Back To 'Pre-COVID Levels' on Aug 05, 2020
While ADI was hit hard in April, with revenue declining 21%, the company's...
Exposing Fever Tablet Suppliers and 40+ Relabelers on Aug 05, 2020
IPVM has found 40+ USA and EU companies relabeling fever tablets designed,...
Indian Government Restricts PRC Manufacturers From Public Projects on Aug 04, 2020
In a move that mirrors the U.S. government’s ban on Dahua and Hikvision...
Directory of 201 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on Aug 04, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers...
Face Masks Increase Face Recognition Errors Says NIST on Aug 04, 2020
COVID-19 has led to widespread facemask use, which as IPVM testing has shown...
Dahua Loses Australian Medical Device Approval on Aug 04, 2020
Dahua has cancelled its medical device registration after "discussions" with...
Google Invests in ADT, ADT Stock Soars on Aug 03, 2020
Google has announced a $450 million investment in the Florida-based security...