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IP Custodians in India Talk About Event Security in the Light of Las Vegas Concert Massacre

Industry Watch | October 4, 2017 | Feature

Event Crafter Sunburn Percept Live Event Capital

It was on October 1st, a Sunday, at approximately 10 PM, when over 22,000 people were grooving to their favorite country singer Jason Aldean at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when suddenly a gunman opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the next-door hotel Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing over 59 and injuring over 500 festival attendees in the process.

While the police are out deciphering a motive behind this barbaric act by the identified shooter, a 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada; one cannot help but think about the lapse in security protocols and if the impact of tragedy could have been minimized with better medical facilities present at the festival grounds.

Most people who know of the incident are calling it a one of its kind bizarre case that is unlikely to happen again but can we overlook the simple fact as long as a festival attendee is inside an event venue, doesn’t the onus of his/her safety completely lie on the event organizer? Also, the fact that an individual can easily smuggle into the nearby hotel over 23 firearms and weapons raises the question if the entire fiasco was a result of an improper choice of an event venue on the part of organizers.

The entire case comes like a shocker to a country like India where the LIVE events industry is still at a nascent stage and the security protocols at most events are not so robust, to say the least. Are we as an industry prepared to deal with contingencies like these? To decode the answer to this question, EVENTFAQS reached out to some of the biggest music festival organisers in the country. Here is what they had to say.

Manuj Agarwal-CEO, Percept LIVE (Sunburn, the biggest dance music festival in the country), shared, “The Las Vegas shooting is an act of terrorism but as a learning and precaution we have to make our pre-planning, coordination with authorities, accreditation process for people working and stall personnel's very detail and documented. We must ensure that the local authority is given all details of the festival, attendance, kind of people expected and what arrangements are made in the event. Event access and perimeter security and checks should be detailed with both manpower and technology used.”

He added, “It is high time that we ensure no weapons can reach inside the venue and hence, what has to change is checking of material and people pre-event. Also, we have to be now more careful in selecting our venues. Location of venue or kind of venue like a stadium can make the above process and monitoring much easier. Unfortunately, in India, we don't have festival or concert venues and most of the sports stadium don't allow music programs or alcohol. We need to approach the sports authority and try and get access to these stadiums as these are made keeping in mind such eventualities, like bomb scare, evacuations, and are replete with multiple exists etc. For our events, at Percept LIVE, we follow the process that is required but the coordination and information exchange between organization and authorities is limited. Also, authorities have to take cognizance that such large events are as important as a political rally which a senior minister or government official is attending.”

Siddhartha Chaturvedi-CEO, Event Crafter and Director of the newest music festival in the country Taalbelia remarked, “I don’t think that the event organizer is to blame in this particular incident as there are no traces that prove that any kind of security was lacking inside the concert venue. However, one also cannot deny that when an audience enters your festival grounds they become your responsibility. The entire incident only goes on to show how organizers need to be completely vigilant and be prepared for anything."

He added, "What also cannot be overlooked is that fact that such cases bring to the light the importance to strict security procedures that need to be followed at large-scale events in India as even today we see multiple events ignoring these basic safety protocols. Since Taalbelia is a residential music festival we have devised stringent safety protocols and established multiple checkpoints to ensure that no weaponry or substance can be sneaked inside the festival premises.”

The creator of India's biggest Bollywood Music Property- Bollywood Music Project, Deepak Choudhary- Director, Event Capital shared, "Indian events and festivals do pay a lot of attention to security. All my peers and colleagues in the business make sure that they do the best within their control to keep people attending their events safe. That said, an atrocity like the Vegas shooting is unforeseen, and extremely unfortunate. I am sure all of us in the business will pay more emphasis on security at our shows. At the Bollywood Music Project, security is our priority. We work with the best security agencies in the business to ensure that we keep our fans and crew safe during the festival."

Adding on the security protocols his festival follows, Choudhary elaborated, "We work with extremely reputed, trusted security agencies. My crew members, along with the agency, are constantly on the look-out for anything suspicious. From bag checks to metal detectors to adequate, competent security personnel on-ground, we make sure to do everything in our control to maintain safety at our festivals."

Argha Chatterjee, Director, Time Out 72 Hours, a brand new EDM property set to hit the grounds running in Goa this year stated, "Our industry must realize incidents like this can happen to any of us with at any given point of time at any event. It's a wake-up call and a reminder that we can’t afford to become self-righteous. Unfortunately concerts are target rich places for terror acts and budgeting and planning to implement industry best practices will help avoid this manmade calamity which comes with no prior warning. Safety at all of our events is and will remain our topmost priority. We are constantly adjusting our event security measures year-round, collaborating and consulting with the national, state and local law enforcement agencies through our full-time security team alongwith intelligence authorities. We will continue our efforts to insure the most safest and secure environment for our attendees and provide the most comprehensive and proactive security measures at the debut edition of Time Out 72 Hours this year."

Sharing the challenges of security management at large scale events Chatterjee further added, "One of the many challenges is balancing security with the freedom people have become accustomed to at entertainment and vacation sites. An enhanced and visible presence of security inside and around the venue, creation of a temporary shelter-in-place, surveillance cameras at all entry exit points, strict security screening at hotels, transportation check posts, evacuation procedures to be explained to fans in all communication, better training for security personnel, background checks on ticket-holders, counter snipers, bomb sweep of cars, usage of drones, sniffer dogs and wand metal detectors, tour policies should include provisions for terrorism-related cancellations, are some of the initiatives festival organizers should take now. Over and above this all event attendees must have a personal preparedness plan. This includes knowing how you will communicate with your family and establishing a rendezvous point incase your group gets separated, carrying a basic first aid kit , flashlight and food in your backpack."

Shailendra Singh- Inceptor, Guestlist4Good remarks, "I don’t think anyone, anywhere in the world is prepared to deal with something like what happened in Las Vegas. How can you be? It’s absolutely atrocious! And, this is exactly why we do what we do at Guestlist4Good. The world has never been more divided. We need to unite the world through entertainment. We need to bring back and spread the love."

"In my 30 years in conceptualising and running events, we have been incident free. For us, the fans come first. Their safety and security is paramount. We do rescue drills, fire drills, disaster planning. We will continue to do all that we can do, to keep the fans safe"- Singh completes. 

In this feature, event IP custodians in the country talk about Event Security in the light of the Las Vegas Concert Massacre on Oct 1st, 2017

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