As December enters its later half, the Indian event industry is all set to give 2015 a grand farewell. Tiesto’s 3-City India Tour and Supersonic in Goa feature right on top of the list of most anticipated events of the year. With the crowd multiplying into several thousands, huge challenges are faced in securing large-scale events such as these and the involvement of a resourceful security agency is paramount. TOPSGRUP, one of India’s top 10 security companies, is tasked with the overall safety at Supersonic as well as the Tiesto Concerts.
The agency is one of the most preferred security teams for events and celebrities in India. Keeping up with the reputation, they have come up with a comprehensive plan to run both the events without a glitch. Niraj Bijlani, Executive Director, TOPSGRUP explains, “This year’s Supersonic spans over four days – 27 - 30 Dec, 2015 and Tiesto multi-city tour was held on 17,18 & 19 Dec at Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad. Tiesto Concerts saw more than 5000 - 6000 visitors per city. For Supersonic, we conducted a venue/site survey with the client, to understand the entry and emergency exit points, and decided on the number of security personnel required – lady guards, bouncers, officers etc. After the recce, we proposed a plan to the client, which has been approved. In the plan, we have also incorporated deployment of QRT (Quick Response Team) inside the ground, as we expect approx. 20,000 people to be present at the venue, per day. Looking at the numbers, we have suggested a total strength of 310 security personnel serving day and night shifts.”
TOPSGRUP is known for the team’s experience and expertise since its inception in 1970. The scale and quantum of events the agency has secured speaks a lot about the preference they enjoy in the event industry. From VH1 Supersonic Arcade and Big Boss to Pinkathon, Pro Kabaddi and ISL, the team has managed a variety of event genres. Apart from on-ground activities and events, TOPSGRUP also provide close protection for celebrities. Their pan-India presence makes it easier to secure multi-city events as well. The company has a scientific approach towards security, rather than just deploying men. Security risks for big events are categorised into 5 - Physical, Reputation, Commercial, Emotional and Facilities.
This gives us an insight into what goes on behind the scene to ensure the successful execution of an event , without fearing for the safety of visitors and crew. Here’s a lowdown on the evolving event security services.
Appointing a security agency is one of the top 5 priorities when planning an event. The security agency works in harmony with other teams managing the event. They work on an evacuation plan and also decide the access limit of the security personnel in every zone/area. For the entire duration of the event, the communication remains strong to avoid any mishap or emergency.
Security Plan For Large Scale Events
To begin with, depending on the crowd size and ground capacity, the security team decides the number of functional entry gates and emergency exits. Then, the focus is on the box-office which is far from the main entrance. Nowadays, online tickets are popular, which are then redeemed at the box-office counter. It is important to ensure sufficient number of aisles at the box-office for different categories – general, VIP, VVIPs, Promoters etc. The aisles are structured in such a way that a person collects the tickets and bands from one aisle and comes out from the other. After collecting the tickets, they come to the holding area near the main entrance where the first level of checking is done. The stage is also secured from the front to keep the audience from climbing on to it. After the show, the security team confirms that all members of the audience have left the ground (lavatories are also checked) and give a complete hand-over to the client.
Large-scale indoor events and outdoor events require different approaches in security planning. For an open event in India, tin-barricading is a common practice. This becomes a challenge for the security team as these structures are easy to break. Such outdoor events require an on-ground survey - the tin-barricades are checked and assessed for any possible security breaches.
For indoor events, the venue is enclosed by a concrete structure with strategically placed entry and exit points. The challenge here is crowd management which runs into 50,000 for sports and concern events. The small gates at entry and exit points becomes bottlenecks and it is the responsibility of the security team to avoid any riot or stampede. Apart from this, the security team also keeps an eye on various facilities like food & beverage area, toilets, video rooms, players’ room, pavilion, and VIP chambers.
Physical Force To Technological Advancements
Event security has evolved over the years. Physical security is merged with technological advances. Video surveillance is now sophisticated enough to incorporate facial recognition and higher quality CCTV cameras are creating footage that is sharper than ever. With the help of these, one can react faster in case of a crisis. Further, continuous monitoring and surveillance solutions helps identify the threat and immediate action can be initiated from the monitoring room. Agencies like TOPSGRUP also have a team in plain clothes within the event vicinity to gather intelligence over any planned activity. Usage of RFID bands, handheld detectors, alcohol detector, metal door frame, motion and movement sensors also help.
Major Security Challenge
Crowd management wouldn’t have been so much of a challenge for the event security team, if the ‘free-pass’ system wasn’t extremely favoured in the country. Niraj says; “The major challenge, in any event, is to overcome the forceful entry of individuals at the venue. Authorities sometime allow people to enter at the venue due to local connect. This results in more crowd than the venue can hold. In such situations, we bring this to the notice of the organizer/client and it is then taken over by them. To give you an example, in the Kochi ISL match, TOPSGRUP was the only security agency no government authorities were involved. For this match total of 25,000 tickets were sold and that was the exact number of people present during the match, unlike other matches where the number of viewers inside stadium were way higher than the number of tickets sold.
Importance of Public-Private Partnerships
Public-Private Partnerships are a common practice in the US and the UK which prove to be very helpful. In the western countries, port security, infrastructure security, and event management is taken care of by both the private and the public sector. In India, there are approx. 40,000 police officials who are deployed at events, monuments etc. for security. If a private agency gets involved, these officials will be free and their expertise can be utilised elsewhere for law-and-order situation, where their requirement is more urgent.
Moreover, event security is a specialised subject and requires a different approach than that of regular law and order assignments. Use of effective technology and blending it with manpower become essential for ensuring safety of celebrities/artist and audience at large public events.
Deploying a few men at the venue can hardly secure a large-scale event, in the current scenario. Agencies like TOPSGRUP provide a scientific approach towards event security in India.