Why’s a place of mass gathering so difficult to pin down, even for owners and operators? The answer is more complex than you’d think. For one, place of mass gathering is a risk designation, extrinsic to the core function of the venue. Qualifying a venue as a place of mass gathering is its (high) potential to inspire terrorist attacks, which it becomes by concentrating large numbers of people.
And there’s the rub. The very potential for venues to become places of mass gathering presents such a stark safety and security challenge for owners and operators. Those internal stakeholders must contend with the fact that high-population densities can congregate in their venues at both regular and unpredictable times. Then, by dint of being highly accessible, those publics present bad actors with the opportunity to inflict mass casualties, cause mass economic damage, and instill public fear.
While serious, these safety and security challenges aren’t insurmountable. Risk is relative – not all venue owners and operators will be implicated. Nevertheless, some facilities are simply more likely to inspire terrorist attention than others, including:
- Sporting venues
- Commercial precincts (shopping and business)
- Significant tourism and entertainment venues and attractions
- Hotels and convention centers
- Public transportation hubs
- Major events, i.e. largely one-off (rather than ongoing) occurrences that concentrate large numbers of people on a fairly predictable basis, e.g. international summits, political conventions, large-scale sporting events, or music festivals
What’s there to be done, then? For starters, venue stakeholders must address whether they are, in fact, making adequate investments in the protection of their venues and congregating publics.
For the most part, they’re not – at least not yet. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. A security lapse leading to a major incident at a place of mass gathering can torpedo an owner’s/operator’s/manager’s reputation, erode any sense of fellow feeling among residents, and send costs and liability through the roof.
Don’t take the risk. Protect your place of mass gathering with effective safety and security management practices and structures. Not sure how? Our protecting venue of mass gathering guide walks venue owners and operators through the finer points of planning, including duty of care, interoperability, risk, and emergency action planning with the goal of controlling major risk factors and keeping publics and property safe. Download the guide to learn more.