From Festivals to Football, Pre-Planning Assembly Events is Critical

A digital and shareable preplan helps mitigate the impact on lives and property when that good time comes to an abrupt end

By Mr. Stephen Nardi

We are sitting in the tail end of the music festival season, having recently wrapped up Lollapalooza here in Chicago and Burning Man just underway in the Black Rock Desert. “Lolla” draws 300,000 over three days for a very good time on the confined lawns of Grant Park. More than 70,000 attend the one week fest in the Nevada desert.

These are two of the more than 170 summer music festivals. In total, as many as 32 million people attend music festivals a year, according to a 2015 Neilson study. But we’re in transition from summer to fall. This weekend, football stadiums that range in capacity from a few hundred to more than 100,000 will begin to fill. The parties begin early in sprawling parking lots and fields – well before fans enter the high-security confines of the stadium. Per NFL and NCAA statistics, more than 17 million and almost 50 million fans respectively attended football games in the 2015 season.

Each one of these assembly events is a soft target for incidents triggered by accident or on purpose. Atrocities in Paris at the Stade de France and in Nice at the Promenade des Anglais have reminded us that these events are not immune to acts of terror – foreign or domestic, coordinated or lone wolf, in the name of something big or small.

These assembly events need to be incident preplanned so first responders can react with knowledge, saving lives and property.

In 2015, the Chicago Tribune outlined Lollapalooza’s severe weather evacuation plans, which include cooperation from the city’s emergency management office, police and fire departments. Improvements were made after there was confusion two years prior about where to go for shelter. As regular as it is for festivals to have weather-related evacuation plans, it is not yet a standard operating procedure for event producers to think beyond dangerous weather.

Who may have special needs? What do the floor plans look like? How is the campus or the surrounding neighborhood laid out? Where are exits and escape routes? Are there safe rooms? Where are utility shut-off locations? Are there hazardous materials on site?

These are questions relevant to all kinds of large events, not just those held within a facility. There are pre-plan technologies available that need to play a role in event emergency response whether in an open space or inside a facility. The modern emergency response pre-plan program needs to be all-digital and operable both on- and off-line. Moreover, it needs to be shareable between event operators and first responders.

Our CommandScope pre-plan program is an example of this technology. It allows event organizers and facility managers to share highly-detailed grounds and facility information with first responders. And it leverages cloud-based technology allowing for real-time updates to be accessible even en route to emergencies.

Having immediate, shareable answers is important as first responders in your area may have never conducted a walk-through of your event footprint or facility. And since many fire and police departments in the U.S. respond via “mutual aid” agreements, many of first responders most likely have no knowledge of your layout or facility prior to the 911 call.
In each of these cases, the digital pre-plan need to be incorporated into event, facility and municipality emergency response plans. The technology needs to work side-by-side with security cameras, detectors, alarms, communications systems and human intelligence to create a holistic response to emergency situations.

In the end, a digital and shareable preplan helps mitigate the impact on lives and property when that good time – under the stars or under the lights – comes to an abrupt end.

Mr. Stephen Nardi is CEO of RealView, LLC, developers of the CommandScope all digital pre-plan technology. For more information, visit

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