Australia is a sports-loving nation and home to many world class stadiums and arenas. These are the places where games of tennis, cricket, Australian Rules Football, Rugby Union, Rugby League, and soccer are held. World-class artists also hold sold-out concerts in these sporting venues. With the renowned Rod Laver Arena, the ANZ Stadium, the Canberra Stadium, the historic WACA, and many others, Australia’s huge sporting stadiums and arenas have helped shaped the nation’s culture and pride.
Why are arenas and stadiums at more risk for attacks?
The Australian government includes stadiums and arenas in its classification ‘crowded places’, which highlights them as preferred targets for terrorists. These places include, but are not limited to sports stadiums, hotels, places of worship, civic spaces, theatres, and shopping centres. The National Terrorism Threat Level for Australia is at PROBABLE, which means that there are groups and individuals with the intent to conduct a terrorist attack in the country. Why are crowded places at more risk for terror attacks?
- Highly concentrated crowds give the potential for greater or mass casualties, and bigger impact to the psyche of the people.
- Crowded places are open and easily accessible. This reduces the need for complex surveying of the target and planning.
- Crowded places are often public locations with a high nationalistic and symbolic value. An attack on these iconic places can have a bigger psychological effect.
- Crowded places will have more witnesses. More witnesses mean the attack can quickly spread through first-hand accounts on social media through harrowing images and videos. This increases the resonance and impact of the attack on the psyche of the nation.
- Attacks on crowded places have the tendency to attract global media attention and coverage.
Threats in arenas and stadiums
Safety can be a challenge in crowded places. It even becomes a greater challenge in large venues such as stadiums and arenas. Accidents and emergencies can happen anytime, especially when people are excited. The gathering of so many people can also be a target for terrorist attacks.
The first step in safety management is to identify the possible threats to security and the possible life-threatening situations. Only then can you apply the necessary measures to reduce and mitigate the risk on human life and property.
Explosive devices and terror attack
The presence of high profile sports athletes and celebrities, as well as the large gathering of people is a magnet for violent extremists. There is no quicker way to bring in chaos, confusion, and widespread fear than explosions. Long lines outside the venue make the place more attractive to terrorists. Limiting the number of people entering the venue at any time can mitigate the risk, and can also give security personnel time to do proper search and screening before any person can enter the premises.
Hostile vehicular attack
A vehicular attack involves a perpetrator intentionally ramming a vehicle into a crowd of people, a building, another vehicle, or any property. It has become a tactic used by terrorists, as it requires little skill to perform and can cause great damage and casualties. Some perpetrators use the vehicle to enter guarded locations, before they set off explosives or begin another type of attack.
Thefts and vandalism
In a place so crowded, with tens of thousands in attendance, the threat to property is imminent. Theft is common in crowded places, especially at sporting events and concerts, where the attention of the victim is mostly on the game or show.
Brawls and fistfights
Sporting events should be fun and enjoyable, but with emotions running high, fights cannot always be avoided. Fights between fans can easily escalate into fistfights, or worse, into brawls. Brawls can be dangerous, especially if there are children or vulnerable people in the area. They can result in injuries and these can be very serious.
A dangerous crush can easily result if a crowded area has no traffic management flow in place. A crush may also result from other safety threats mentioned above, such as terror attacks or brawls. Crushes can result in injuries, and sometimes, even death. Crushes can be avoided if there is an emergency response plan in place and if physical barriers are placed to guide the flow of foot traffic.
Implementing layered security
‘Layered security’ is the practice of applying several layers of security measures to secure a site. Its goal is to reduce the risk of successful terror attacks and to ensure the safety and security of the site through layers of redundancy The redundancy, when implemented right, will ensure that the failure of one level will not compromise the entire security of the site being protected.
Layered security is made of four elements: Deterring, Detecting, Delaying, and Responding.
- Deterring includes physical and electronic measures. This can include fencing, warning signs, demarcations, vehicle barriers, CCTV cameras, and visible security personnel.
- Detecting a potential threat and attack can mean visual detection and alert systems such as CCTV cameras and other electronic systems. This can also include intruder detection systems, vehicle screening systems, canine explosive detectors, metal detectors, and x-ray machines.
- Delaying potential threats and attack can be done be having physical barriers in place. The objective is to slow down an attack, ideally to the point where the attacker is forced to give up in the attempt, or be prevented by the security team. This can include security fences, natural barrier, security barriers for pedestrians and vehicles, and trained security response to security threats.
- Responding to attacks and threats in a large and crowded venue such as stadiums and arenas must be timely and well-coordinated. Security personnel need to be trained and skilled to be able to respond quickly and effectively. Emergency communication systems in place must be reliable and always up.
How to improve safety in stadiums and arenas
Putting up physical and visible deterrence is one way to stop criminal on their tracks. Visible and physical barriers can deter criminals from even making an attempt to breach a property.
Physical barriers can also delay attacks and allow security and police personnel to respond on the threat. It can maximise the time between the detection of attack and when it reaches its target.
Here are some physical barriers, electronic systems, and safety principles that can be applied in stadiums and arenas to maximise and strengthen their safety and security systems.
Security and safety measures should start from the outermost perimeter of the property. Bollards are the ideal solution to block and deter access to the property. Here are the common uses of safety bollards, not just in stadiums and arenas, but in other public places as well:
- Safety bollards can deter and even stop hostile vehicular attacks. They can also absorb shocks from vehicular impacts.
- They block vehicles from entering emergency exits, to ensure that these passageways are free from blockages at all times.
- They can be used for traffic control of vehicles in parking lots.
- They can be used to direct foot traffic in entryways and exits, to ensure a smooth traffic flow.
- bollards can also be used in place of safety bollards for the security and safety purposes.
V-Safety Handrail Systems
Handrail systems are flexible safety and security tools. Handrail systems can be used for the following purposes in stadiums and arenas:
- to provide support in stadium steps
- as leaning fences, to reduce the risk of falls and accidents
- as crowd control barriers
- to limit crowd and viewers in certain areas and seats
- as physical deterrent against threats
- to protect pedestrians from vehicular traffic in parking areas
- to deter access of people with the intent to harm.
Barriers create a strong physical boundary between two things. They can be used to separate pedestrians from vehicles, sections in the stadiums and arenas, and can provide a strong and visible physical deterrent against criminals.
They can also be used to keep the unsuspecting public from dangerous areas, such as sections under repair, electrical equipment areas, and other areas that should be off limits to the public and the patrons.
Barriers are made of robust steel that can withstand vehicular shocks, so you can use them as deterrent against vehicular attacks and to protect spectators from accidental vehicular crashes.
These can be used to prevent unauthorised access in secured and off-limit areas. Meshguards can be used to protect the spectators in the seating areas from stray balls and other paraphernalia used for sports. At the same time, they can also be used to keep the spectators off the field, where the games are held, without sacrificing the view from the stands.
Meshguards can also be used in the surrounding areas for added protection and security.
Keeping an eye on more than 50,000 spectators is a challenge. At large-scale sports events, it can be a nightmare for the head of security. Video surveillance cameras are indispensable for arenas and stadiums. The entire stadium must be covered by CCTV systems to ensure that all areas are monitored: entrances and exits, bleachers, ticket stands, escape routes, food stands, corridors, hallways, stairways, and the surrounding areas.
The benefits of having a comprehensive surveillance system installed in stadiums and arenas include:
- Security personnel can prevent escalations of brawls and fights among passionate and warring fans.
- Suspicious persons can be monitored, and immediate action can be done if needed.
- The coming and going of patrons can be monitored.
- Sports athletes can be monitored for their safety, not just from terror attacks, but from overzealous fans as well.
- Potential threats for terror attacks can be recognised through video analytics.
- The presence of CCTV systems can help deter theft and vandalism.
Risk Management Plan and Emergency Response Plan
A Risk Management Plan should be in place, and must be reviewed for each event to be held in the stadium or arena. Each event is unique and has its own security and safety needs that must be met to ensure the safety of the patrons.
Aside from a Risk Management Plan, an Emergency Response Plan must also be in place. Evacuation and lock down procedures must be included and carefully laid out. In a crowd of more than 50,000 people, anything can happen: brawls and fights, attacks, and accidents such as falls or a ball that has misfired. The staff must be well aware and well-acquainted with the risk management plan and emergency response plan in place to be able to perform their specific task efficiently in keeping the patrons safe.
Reliable Communication Systems
When ensuring the safety and protection of tens of thousands of people, a reliable communication system between the stadium’s staff and security personnel is essential. With a communication system in place, management teams, security teams, and safety teams can communicate instantly, anywhere on the stadium’s or arena’s grounds. The communications system must also be secured, to avoid security breach.
Trained and Competent Personnel
Apart from the security team, the staff must also be trained on how to respond to threats and emergencies. They must be trained on how to respond to risk of terrorist attacks, bomb threats, and other security threats.
The staff must also be trained on how to respond on other emergencies, such as health related ones.
These are just some of the safety measures that should be adapted to increase the safety of stadiums and arenas. There are other security measures that can be used, such as x-ray screenings, bomb-sniffing canine teams, and intruder alarm systems.
For your security and physical barrier needs, contact Verge today
Verge is committed to creating safe environments, not just in workplaces and warehouses, but in public places as well. With Barriers, Bollards, Meshguards, Railings, and Gates, Verge has a wide array of products to keep you, your workers, and your patrons safe. Verge’s safety products are made of high quality materials, always with strength and robustness in mind.
Safety and protection are serious matters, and Verge offers the ultimate protection for stadiums and arenas.