Losing sight of people can spell disaster

July 11th, 2009 - 3:50 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 11 (IANS) Losing sight of people in a crowd can spell disaster, warns a new report on terrorist threats and crowd control.
The report, based on other reports on understanding crowd behaviour, also claims that over-reliance on technical and IT solutions implies failure to learn from past disasters.

The reports were compiled for the British cabinet office by researchers from two centres within Leeds University Business School (COSLAC and CSTSD), and are the first to bring together sociological and psychological research on events and crowd behaviour, reviewing over 550 academic papers.

They also drew on in-depth interviews with 27 specialists in the field (police, emergency planners and event managers) to produce detailed guidelines for event organisers.

The findings will be of use to all those managing events involving large numbers of people and are particularly timely in the run up to 2012 (Olympics in London), said a Leeds University release.

Researchers cite the recent debacle at the opening of Heathrow’s Terminal Five as a prime example of a situation where faith in the power of new software and other technology meant that the importance of people was overlooked.

Almost 300 flights in and out of Heathrow Airport were cancelled during the first five days as teething problems at the new Terminal 5 caused chaos, according to a BBC report last year.

“Believing new technology can be the answer to all problems means we are more likely to overlook basic lessons from past events,” the study authors wrote.

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