What’s the Difference Between Crowd Control and Crowd Management ?

Safety Sticklers Tips What’s the Difference Between Crowd Control and Crowd Management ?

What’s the Difference Between Crowd Control and Crowd Management ?

At first blush, crowd management and crowd control are two seemingly interchangeable terms. Truth be told, the practical applications of these concepts involve different types of gathering and overall goals. 

If there’s a thread that ties them together, it’s the value both place on public safety. Understanding the subtle differences and best practices can help event planners and security experts make informed decisions about the tools and equipment needed to ensure crowd safety. 

What is Crowd Management? 

Crowd management involves the due diligence event organizers take to maximize the safety of people who attend events

The process calls for experienced crowd safety professionals to plan and organize parking, foot traffic, congregating areas, and other aspects of gatherings. Savvy crowd management also considers factors such as crowd-control monitoring before, during, and while attendees leave. 

The primary goals of any crowd-control operation focus on public safety and security. That’s why emergency response planning is a critical element of any crowd management strategy. 

Regardless of whether the event brings dozens or thousands of spectators together, crowd safety specialists develop a way for first responders, EMTs, and event security to quickly reach areas where violence could break out, injuries may occur, or in case they need to aid people with health emergencies. 

Tools and Equipment Used for Crowd Management

One study revealed that deficient crowd management at outdoor concerts was linked to nearly 700,000 injuries and 232 deaths over 10 years. That’s why today’s crowd management plans are designed to minimize risk. The tools and equipment are, therefore, developed to improve crowd safety. These are the items a professional crowd management team typically deploys: 

  • Temporary Fencing with Screens 
  • Rope and Post Stanchions 
  • CCTV Surveillance Systems 
  • Turnstiles & Metal Detectors 
  • Two-Way Radios 
  • Road Safety Signs & Traffic Cones 
traffic cone 28 2 1
Traffic Safety Cones
crowd control and crowd management retractable stanchions 1
Retractable Belt Barriers
a frame signage crowd control and crowd management

Some of these standard crowd safety products are used by security to prevent bad actors from introducing weapons and monitoring groups. 

Others help create a steady flow of automobiles, foot traffic, and ensure communication in an emergency. Using these tools with a smartly designed crowd management plan decreases the risk of accidents and injuries

What is Crowd Control? 

Crowd control practices are generally designed to prevent disorderly conduct, disruptive behavior, property damage, or a violent outbreak

Typically used to handle large planned gatherings as well as unplanned protests, controlling the crowd often requires law enforcement to implement specific strategies and utilize specialized equipment. 

Police and security professionals undergo crowd control training that provides them with strategic insight. A common example is separating crowds, so they cannot spill into a street parade. In mob flare-ups, law enforcement may be tasked with preventing rioters from advancing and dispersing unlawful gatherings as peacefully as possible. 

Tools and Equipment Used for Crowd Control 

Many of the primary tools and equipment needed for crowd control are designed to maintain order, separate crowds, and keep foot and automobile traffic moving in a desired direction. 

Others provide effective means of communication, or even personal protective gear for police and crowd control professionals. These are standard products used for crowd control. 

  • Temporary Fencing with Screens 
  • Weighted Barriers 
  • Walkie Talkies & Cell Phones 
  • Surveillance Systems & Drones 
  • Personal Protective Equipment 
  • Police Riot Gear & Accessories 
  • Mobile First Aid Stations & Ambulances
crowd control and crowd management stage barrier
Aluminum Stage Barriers

crowd control temporary fence panel
Temporary Fencing

crowd control traffic jersey style barrier 1
Jersey Style Barriers

It’s important to keep in mind that the tools and equipment needed for effective crowd control must be relatively lightweight. In response to unplanned gatherings and public outcry, police typically transport and quickly deploy items such as temporary barriers

Using these tools in connection with a well-trained crowd-control team decreases injuries, property damage, and unlawful behaviors

Differences Between Crowd Management and Crowd Control 

Although the terms crowd control and crowd management are sometimes used interchangeably, they are clearly different. 

Crowd control experts respond to planned and unplanned gatherings

Crowd management professionals, by contrast, craft a plan that includes security measures, safety precautions, and the organized flow of vehicles and foot traffic. 

Many of the goals of crowd control and management are also quite different: 

  • Crowd Control seeks to deter and prevent hostile, unlawful behaviors such as looting, property damage, and violence. 
  •  Crowd Management focuses on the best practices and oversight needed to create a peaceful event.

Perhaps the images that best highlight the differences are police on horseback wearing riot gear to ensure crowd control versus security personnel politely taking tickets and pointing attendees through turnstiles and temporary fences.

crowd control professional using metal barriers to guide people through a designated path

Practical Tips for Crowd Safety 

Crowd safety is an area where control and management goals overlap. No one wants an attendee or emotional resident to suffer an injury. These are ways crowd safety specialists can maximize security and minimize the risk of accidents or injuries. 

  • Define specific gathering areas by setting up temporary barriers
  • Funnel automobile traffic by deploying traffic cones and signage. 
  • Ensure pedestrians are safe by establishing foot traffic pathways
  • Identity and redirect crowd congestion. 
  • Monitor crowds for bad actors and signs of distress. 
  • Use metal detectors and security pat-downs at entrance points. 
  • Maintain an adequate number of mobile care units and EMTs. 
  • Create exit lanes specifically for emergency vehicles. 
  • Provide two-way radios and communication devices for crowd safety team members. 

The importance of trained, vigilant crowd safety experts cannot be overstated. Possessing critical tools and equipment is only useful if security personnel monitor and react to potentially dangerous situations. 

Crowd management and control requires trained professionals using the best tools and equipment available. 

Learn More About Crowd Safety 

The goals and tools used by crowd management and crowd control specialists differ significantly. The former seeks to maintain order so that participants can engage in an enjoyable experience. The latter leans toward preventing unlawful or disruptive behavior without advanced warning, in many cases. 

The foundation of both concepts rests on crowd safety. Accomplishing this common goal calls for equipping specialists with the knowledge and equipment necessary to ensure community members do not suffer unnecessary accidents or injuries. 

If you’d like to learn more about crowd safety, check out our tips on how to prevent fan violence at concerts.

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