The O2 Arena
Green Day & Madonna Gigs: Crowd Safety Tops Bill
The O2's British-developed communications system keeps crowds safe
What do Green Day and Madonna have in common? They're both amongst the world's top entertainers and both have played sell-out gigs at The O2 Arena in 2009. Keeping the excited crowds safe at London's top rock venue is a huge issue and now a British company has solved the problem – at the touch of a button. London-based Call-Systems Technology (CST) recently installed a high-tech communications system, called StewardCall, which can keep the hundreds of stewards, supervisors and managers in constant contact with each other, so they can keep the crowds under control.
Based around pagers and special transmitters linked to a sophisticated software package, StewardCall went 'live' at The O2 in March 2009 and it has made an immediate impact. "Communications have improved dramatically," says The O2's Head of Venue Operations. "As well as enhancing crowd management, it has helped in several other areas, too – from lone worker safety to improved service for customers and VIPs."
Before the system went live, the biggest safety issue The O2 had was communications. "Two-way radio just wasn't working as well as we'd like." He continues, "We had hundreds of users generating a huge amount of radio traffic, so people couldn't actually use the radios properly because there wasn't enough frequency space for them."
What was required was a practical and efficient way for the steward, security, cleaning, medical and management teams to stay in contact with each other.
The StewardCall system at The O2 means staff carry a StewardCall transmitter which has four buttons – pressing each button sends an instant message to the relevant personnel, to summon a supervisor, medical help, security or cleaning staff. The transmitter's buttons are allocated slightly differently, depending on the member of staff's role. For example, stewards have a button allocated to summoning a cleaning team, while supervisors have an acknowledge button, which is used to check that everyone is ready and in position, for example before opening doors to a major show.
Staff also carry a pager, which can be used to receive messages.
Simplicity is at the heart of the StewardCall system. "One of the great things about the system is it's so straightforward," he says. "The guys from CST came to hold our hands for the first few events, but pretty soon they weren't really required. Now we use the system all the time."
One important benefit is that stewards can now be much more visible at big events like the Green Day concerts. "Before, stewards would have to wait outside the auditorium, on the concourses, so that they could be easily contacted. Often, with the problems of radio traffic, we'd use the tannoy to alert them to any issues. With StewardCall, they can be in the event itself, since we can contact them easily by pager. Customers are safer, because they can see stewards and can get hold of them quickly if they need to."
The 'engine-room' of CST’s StewardCall system is the Genesis software. It allows personnel to access and send messages to staff with pagers, via PC terminals based around the venue.
Genesis also logs all the calls and gives the Head of Venue Operations and his colleagues instant knowledge of every situation, even allowing them to see the state of affairs 'live' throughout The O2. "I have information flowing on screen to show me how many people are in the building, what incidents are occurring, everything," he says.
"StewardCall helps with event planning, because we can look at all previous event logs to plan upcoming ones. For example, I might have scheduled, say, five security response teams for a rock show. Checking the StewardCall log of security incidents for previous rock shows will tell me if that's enough, too few or too many, and I can adjust my plans accordingly," he adds.
"StewardCall is making a huge contribution to our safety management."
For more information call CST on 020 8381 1338.