Assessing the Psychosocial Elements of Crowds at Mass Gatherings

School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
Prehospital and disaster medicine: the official journal of the National Association of EMS Physicians and the World Association for Emergency and Disaster Medicine in association with the Acute Care Foundation 12/2011; 26(6):414-21. DOI: 10.1017/S1049023X12000155
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The environmental aspects of mass gatherings that can affect the health and safety of the crowd have been well described. Although it has been recognized that the nature of the crowd will directly impact the health and safety of the crowd, the majority of research focuses on crowd behavior in a negative context such as violence or conflict. Within the mass gathering literature, there is no agreement on what crowd behavior, crowd mood and crowd type actually mean. At the same time, these elements have a number of applications, including event management and mass gathering medicine. These questions are worthy of exploration.
This paper will report on a pilot project undertaken to evaluate how effective current crowd assessment tools are in understanding the psychosocial domain of a mass gathering event.
The pilot project highlighted the need for a more consistent descriptive data set that focuses on crowd behavior.
The descriptive data collected in this study provide a beginning insight into the science of understanding crowds at a mass gathering event. This pilot has commenced a process of quantifying the psychosocial nature of an event. To maximize the value of this work, future research is required to understand the interplay among the three domains of mass gatherings (physical, environmental and psychological), along with the effects of each element within the domains on safety and health outcomes for participants at mass gatherings.


Available from: Alison Hutton, Apr 01, 2015
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Following on from these investigations, the findings have been integrated with a tool to assist crowd organisers and deliverers during the planning of crowd events, and accompanying user feedback interviews following use of the tool. The overarching aim of the research within this thesis was to explore the complex issues that contribute to the user experience of being in a crowd, and how this might be improved. The crowd user focus groups revealed differences in factors affecting crowd satisfaction, varying according to age and user expectations. Greater differences existed between crowd users, than across crowd situations, highlighting the importance of identifying expected crowd members when planning individual events. Additionally, venue design, organisation, safety and security concerns were found to highly affect crowd satisfaction, irrespective of group differences or crowd situations, showing the importance of these issues when considering crowd satisfaction for all crowd events, for any crowd members. Stakeholder interviews examining crowds from another perspective suggested that overall safety was a high priority due to legal obligations, in order to protect venue reputation. Whereas, comfort and satisfaction received less attention within the organisation of crowd events due to budget considerations, and a lack of concern as to the importance of such issues. Moreover, communication and management systems were sometimes inadequate to ensure compliance with internal procedures. In addition a lack of usable guidance was seen to be available to those responsible for organising crowd situations. Eleven themes were summarised from the data, placed in order of frequency of references to the issues: health and safety, public order, communication, physical environment, public relations, crowd movement, event capacity, facilities, satisfaction, comfort, and crowd characteristics. Results were in line with the weighting of the issues within the literature, with health and safety receiving the most attention, and comfort and satisfaction less attention. These results were used to form the basis of observational checklists for event observations across various crowd situations. Event observations took two forms: observing the role of public and private security, and observing crowd events from the user perspective. Observations within public and private security identified seven general themes: communication, anticipating crowd reaction, information, storage, training, role confusion, financial considerations and professionalism. Findings questioned the clarity of the differing roles of public and private security, and understanding of these differences. Also the increasing use of private over public security within crowd event security, and the differing levels of training and experience within public and private security were identified. Event observations identified fifteen common themes drawn from the data analysis: communication, public order, comfort, facilities, queuing systems, transportation, crowd movement, design, satisfaction, health and safety, public relations, event capacity, time constraints, encumbrances, and cultural differences. Key issues included the layout of the event venue together with the movement and monitoring of crowd users, as well as the availability of facilities in order to reduce competition between crowd users, together with possible links to maintaining public order and reducing anti-social behaviour during crowd events. Findings from the focus groups, interviews, and observations were then combined (to enhance the robustness of the findings), and developed into the Crowd Satisfaction Assessment Tool (CSAT) prototype, a practical tool for event organisers to use during the planning of crowd events. In order to assess proof of concept of the CSAT, potential users (event organisers) were recruited to use the CSAT during the planning of an event they were involved in organising. Semi-structured feedback interviews were then undertaken, to gain insight into the content, usefulness, and usability of the CSAT. Separately human factors researchers were recruited to review the CSAT, providing feedback on the layout and usability of the tool. Feedback interviews suggested the CSAT was a useful concept, aiding communication, and providing organisers with a systematic and methodical structure for planning ahead, prioritising ideas, and highlighting areas of concern. The CSAT was described as being clear and easy to follow, with clear aims, and clear instructions for completion, and was felt to aid communication between the various stakeholders involved in the organisation and management of an event, allowing information to be recorded, stored and shared between stakeholders, with the aim of preventing the loss of crucial information. The thesis concludes with a summary model of the factors that influence crowd satisfaction within crowd events of various descriptions. Key elements of this are the anticipation, facilities, and planning considered before an event, influences and monitoring during an event and reflection after an event. The relevance and impact of this research is to assist the planning of crowd events, with the overall aim of improving participant satisfaction during crowd events. From a business perspective the issue is important with competition between events, the desire to encourage return to events, and to increase profit for organisers. From an ergonomics perspective, there is the imperative of improving the performance of crowd organisers and the experience of crowd users.
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    ABSTRACT: The Mass Gathering Data Acquisition and Analysis (MaGDAA) project involved the development of hardware and software solutions to facilitate the rapid and effective collection of autonomous and survey based data during mass gathering events. The aim of the project was the development and trial of a purpose-built Open Hardware based envi-ronment monitoring sensor prototypes using IOIO (pronounced "yoyo") boards. Data from these sensors, and other de-vices, was collected using Open Source software running on Android powered mobile phones, tablets and other open hardware based platforms. Data was shared using a Wi-Fi mesh network based on an Open Source project called The Serval Project. Additional data in the form of survey based questionnaires were collected using ODK Collect, one of the applications in the Open Data Kit suite. The MaGDAA project demonstrated that it is possible for researchers (through the use of Open Source software and Open Hardware) to own, visualise, and share data without the difficulties of set-ting up and maintaining servers. MaGDAA proved to be an effective infrastructure independent sensor logging network that enables a broad range of data collection (demographic, predispositions, motivations, psychosocial and environ-mental influencers and modifiers of audience behaviour, cultural value) in the field of mass gathering research.
    International Journal of Communications, Network and System Sciences 06/2013; 6(6):309-315. DOI:10.4236/ijcns.2013.66033 · 0.90 Impact Factor