Once you've chosen a crowd control barricade, here are a few tips on how to use crowd control barricades to your best advantage:
- Consider safety. Above all else, consider the crowd's physical safety. What happens in the case of an emergency? Do you have a route for emergency vehicles? Are pedestrians kept separate from moving vehicles? The crowd's physical safety should be your number one concern.
Worst case scenarios. One of the trademarks of a crowd is its unpredictability, so you want to be prepared for worst case scenarios. Without dwelling on potential disasters, consider how your crowd control barricades will work in unanticipated circumstances. Crowd behavior researchers study videos of crowds like those that demonstrated at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. Odds are you won't run into anything even close, but at least consider some possibilities so that you won't be caught off guard.
Make entrances and exits well-marked. If the crowd feels that its exit may be blocked or that it cannot fit into the space provided, the crowd may begin to panic. Your crowd control barricades should make the organizational plan obvious to the crowd, and the best systems are ones that the crowd can follow intuitively.
Get some help guesstimating numbers. Whomever you buy or rent your crowd control barricades from should be able to help you gauge how much space you need to accommodate the anticipated crowd. You want to be sure to leave enough room for the crowd to move so that they don't end up feeling trapped.
Use crowd control barricades to enforce "fairness". If you are creating a line, it had better be one where the people who are at the front of the line get served first. In no case do you want to allow some of the crowd to enter an event without waiting or paying admission. Don't forget that in a crowd, the crowd mentality prevails: If the crowd is aware of a system that enforces fairness, it is less likely to take matters into its own hands.
I have been in several crowds that went out of control, fortunately at events where the crowd was blissful enough that the consequences were tame. For example, at Seattle's 2006 HempFest, the crowd breached crowd control barricades not out of unruliness but because inadequate space had been allotted. Remember that a little bit of crowd management goes a long way in ensuring the success of your event. It will be a combination of good planning and adequate crowd control barricades that ensure success on your big day!