As we begin to consider in-person events for the post COVID environment, planners have an opportunity to enhance event operations through the introduction of a total risk management approach. In Part 1 of this article, we discussed the many moving parts involved, and two of these key elements are the centralised event control (CEC) and a safety advisory group (SAG).
Public events around the world which are subject to licensing standards would typically adopt the CEC approach. This has mainly evolved out of lessons learnt from major incidents and subsequent improvements to licensing guidance. However, while the corporate and trade show sector is extremely professional, the adoption of CEC is not as widespread.
In reality, major corporate/exhibition events would see just as many safety and operational benefits utilising a CEC, as would a licensed public event.
Types of CEC
Over time we have witnessed and experienced many variations of the CEC, some are bad, others are adequate or highly effective. In general, the control of an event can fall into three categories – Virtual, Informal and Physical.
- Virtual – One person is responsible for decision making and information sharing. This person may or may not be on-site/entrenched in other activities, making it difficult to be on top of every detail and to respond promptly.
- Informal – This is generally one person or a small team primarily based in the venue in a fixed location, with basic communications running all operations and problem-solving.
- Physical – This can be in either a temporary or permanent space within the venue, staffed and managed by qualified and competent personnel and benefiting from equipment and communications appropriate to the scale of the task.
Amongst risk professionals virtual and informal would fall short of being considered best practice as they can lead to uncertainty or delayed response where time is critical. A physical CEC appropriately staffed would be seen as the Gold Standard.
The CEC serves as a central hub to the many spokes of the event management process, which should ideally include:
- Strategic Management – Acts as Liaison to strategic leadership and ensure they are delivered timely and appropriate information
- Operations Management – Links into all disciplines of the operations team to ensure communications and actions undertaken
- Venue Management – Liaison with Venue operations team including Ops, F&B, Security, Medical, etc
- External Stakeholders, Venues, Hotels, Transportation – Monitors all aspects that could affect the event from external areas and actions appropriately
- Critical Incident & Crisis Management – Technologically and spatially resourced to provide for managing and resolving issues in an efficient and timely manner.
- Emergency Services & Statutory Agencies – coordinating and liaising with statutory services during planning and maintain communication lines during event execution.
Limitations of CEC
A CEC can only make decisions based on the information received and organisational processes, but it has limitations. Any organisation implementing CEC must ensure that all event project team members provide appropriate quality information and adhere to the set processes.
A CEC is most effective when staffed with competent and qualified personnel with the risk team understanding the limitations of the facility.
Benefits of a CEC
Those not accustomed to a CEC approach will often question its effectiveness, cost and space usage, the best way to understand is to view a CEC in operation and how it streamlines and improves communications and the decision-making process.
A typical CEC would incorporate:
- CCTV active monitoring. (NB event organiser should be cognizant of local legislation concerning the usage of CCTV)
- Call Centre – Act as the main call centre and hotline for the event facilitating timely response to all issues technical, venue, ICT, etc
- Log System – Maintaining a record of all communications, processes and decision making which is essential for review of incidents and follow-up after the event.
- Coordination – Communication with all levels of the event team
- Health, Safety, Security & Welfare – Communication with security, welfare staff, COVID Officer, police, emergency responders, fire officers, etc.
- Radio Communications – Monitoring of radio (walkie-talkie) communications.
What is a SAG?
A SAG is a body formed of statutory and invited stakeholders who advise the licenisng aithority on safety matters. This is an essential part of the total risk management planning process.
The SAG is an effective tool in providing a platform for ensuring shared understanding and providing feedback to the event organiser prior to the event. The aim of a SAG is to scrutinise the plans of the event organiser and seek assurance regarding the safety off all of those involved in the event and the broader community are kept safe.
To be continued …..
In later articles, we will review in more detail the benefits of a SAG, crisis management teams and the competencies and qualifications for event control staff and who should have access to the CEC.
Powermill is a consultancy that provides corporate event solutions globally to a select group of clients. Our mission is to be the risk management and knowledge partner of choice for the corporate events sector.