A Venue Owner’s and Operator’s Guide to Protecting Places of Mass Gathering

Best Practice Guide

How to define places of mass gathering

What’s a place of mass gathering? And how do you know if you have the legal responsibility to protect the one you own or operate? The answers are more complex than you’d think. For starters, the risk designation, place of mass gathering, is extrinsic to the core function of the venue – contrast that with the term, critical infrastructure, which designates assets, systems, and networks vital to physical or economic security and/or public health or safety.

Indeed, what actually qualifies a venue as a place of mass gathering is that it has the high potential to inspire terrorist attacks. Of course, it only becomes so by concentrating large numbers of people (usually in larger cities) in accessible places.

It’s this very potential for venues to become places of mass gathering that 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, though, these safety and security challenges aren’t insurmountable. Indeed, safety and security risk is relative – not all venue owners and operators will be implicated. Some facilities are simply more likely to inspire terrorist attention than others.

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