Managing emergencies with audio instructions

When a crisis event occurs in any kind of public or crowded environment – be that a stadium, train station or city street – the risk posed by the emergency itself is often compounded by the risk of the ensuing panic in the crowd. In many cases it is a lack of information or direction that causes havoc as people try to get to safety, often doing exactly the wrong thing or heading in the wrong direction to only increase the impact of the event.

The initial response is a tough challenge for authorities in charge of the situation and the use of horn speakers for public announcements would be useful to provide directions to the crowd.

Panic itself creates a threat which can escalate a situation and prolong the effects of what has just taken place, so, prompt communication can help ease the circumstances and in some cases reduce the level of panic if people feel they are being guided by an authority. Providing adequate instructions can enable faster rescue operations and more efficient access to the scene for emergency services. It can also help direct crowds towards muster points and reunite individuals with their friends or family members.

The first area of focus for protecting big events or crowded public spaces should be to increase the strictness of checkpoint controls, using more technology to limit vulnerabilities. Face recognition and automatic number plate recognition are both scalable and proven solutions. In addition, system integration plays a key role, for instance, adding audio to video.

Every member of a crowd is influenced by what others around them are doing. Forward and backward movement and shoulder-to-shoulder contact might be very intense in a panic situation. When people see someone running, even without understanding what has happened, their instinct will be to start running as well. This represents a threat, and live audio communication can play a big role in avoiding accidents caused by the crowd itself. IP-enabled horn speakers can be crucial tools in managing the crowd and providing immediate information to people in each zone and in any language.

The dynamics and the density of the crowd can change in an instant and this is difficult to detect at ground level. By observing the behavior of the crowd with panoramic multi-megapixel cameras, it is possible to monitor those changes from multiple perspectives. This helps with targeted communication and also allows emergency services to focus specific attention on any individuals in difficulty.

After the initial panic is over, people need to be reassured that the area is safe again so civil protection and law enforcement officers can be mobilized to focus on rescue and investigation.