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Unread 10-25-2013, 02:17 PM
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FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprogr...idays-10252013

Quote:
This week’s question is from Joe Barry, Team 987, The High Rollers, from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA:

Question:

Hi Frank,

Now that we have the Championships venue decided upon for several years to come it makes sense to continue to enhance the experience in St. Louis in ways that ensure a fun, rewarding, educational, and safe experience. As referenced in various Chief Delphi posts and a personal discussion with you this past season, it is obvious that much still needs to be done to make the early morning team entry into the dome a more orderly and safe experience. Has FIRST figured out at a safe, workable crowd control plan for the venue yet...like ensuring the same set of doors are clearly labeled and used for ingress, effective roping for a proper que of teams, wristbands, timed intervals for each team's entry, etc.? Of all the planning efforts associated with this awesome event, I am sure we all agree that none is more important than those that relate to the safety of all individuals participating in it.


Answer:

Thanks for the question, Joe.

You are correct that safety is our top priority. For the 2013 FIRST Championship, we added stanchions outside the entryway to help guide individuals safely through the doors of venue, and also had additional individuals assigned to crowd control, reminding everyone to slow down. In the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing, which happened just a few days before the event, we also added bag checks and security dogs to the event, with the goal of increasing the safety and comfort of all attendees.

We are working now on the security and crowd control plan for the 2014 FIRST Championship. We don’t have details finalized yet, but we’ll pass along information important to teams when the time comes. You can expect, though, that there will be changes to how these elements are handled, and as always, we’ll be counting on the teams do their part to help keep the event safe.

I’ll blog again soon.

Frank
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Unread 10-25-2013, 04:36 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

I can't tell from the response if he grasps the magnitude of the problem at hand here. Guiding people to the right place and having a few people try and ask people to slow down doesn't change the fundamental problem at hand: Thousands of people have a huge incentive to "get in first" in order to claim seating. This isn't something that can and should be fixed by "hey guys, don't run". A queue line for each division that lets people inside in an ordered fashion would do it. Probably takes the same number of extra people as other methods. You could gradually bring the lines in, let in 20 at a time every 30 seconds or so from each line, etc.
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Unread 10-25-2013, 04:57 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

His response is flat out not true. As one of the first 50 or so people in line every day I am 100% sure there was no proper queue formed and that what he's calling "crowd control" was one rent-a-cop that yelled at people for standing on the brick area of the sidewalk while doing nothing to ensure that an orderly line was formed.

There was literally zero effort put into crowd control. Not only that, FIRST staff actually exacerbated the problem by standing at the front of the crowd and counting down to the doors opening, causing what amounted to a stampede.
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Unread 10-25-2013, 06:07 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

I came in the door a minute after it opened on Saturday and it was already madhouse getting in and over to the stands, only to see adults rolling out toilet paper in seats and yelling at each other and at children. Either I'm seeing things and need to see a doctor or they just don't see how intense the problem is...
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Unread 10-25-2013, 07:43 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

I think the entrance to the pits was OK, but I was never over at the opening for seating.
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Unread 10-25-2013, 08:02 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

Speaking of crowd control.
If they don't do something to fix that after-party, someone is going to get hurt.
You simply cannot fit the entire Championship inside the science center. It was a recipe for a future disaster.
They have now made (3) attempts at an after party with very limited success.
The first two were OK but not great, but 2013 was just flat out unsafe.
I sure hope they are brainstorming on the safety aspects of this issue, as well.
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Unread 10-25-2013, 08:43 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

Quote:
Originally Posted by OZ_341 View Post
Speaking of crowd control.
If they don't do something to fix that after-party, someone is going to get hurt.
You simply cannot fit the entire Championship inside the science center. It was a recipe for a future disaster.
They have now made (3) attempts at an after party with very limited success.
The first two were OK but not great, but 2013 was just flat out unsafe.
I sure hope they are brainstorming on the safety aspects of this issue, as well.
My understanding is that they were pinched last year by the weather, forcing everything into a smaller space than planned. Either way, you're right--I was keeping my elbows out at the science center to get a little cushion.

As for the initial seating stampede (and yes, some people really took it like that), I might suggest turnstiles at the door. Pain in the butt for those with things that roll, but for the teeming masses it forces them to go one at a time and not too fast.
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Unread 10-25-2013, 09:12 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

I agree with Chris and Cory, I'm not sure the message was received in terms of the severity of the issue and as Cory mentioned, what was in place could hardly be called crowd control.

I think that Joe brought up some good options that I was hoping Frank would respond to like wristbands or timed intervals.

There needs to be a better system in place. Outside the venue isn't as important to me because once a system is in place to improve the initial rush, the outside queuing of teams will take care of itself. Asking teams to 'slow down' is not a solution. A few more stanchions or barriers outside is also not going to solve the problem.

We know Frank is active on CD, can people post some ideas in this thread as possible solutions?

I was thinking if it made sense to give teams blocks of seats in a vertical manner instead of horizontal. Meaning instead of very few teams taking all of the "good seats" up front, teams are given 2 wide blocks so teams can give preference to their scouters up front and rotate the good seats among themselves.

For clarity? Imagine Team numbers 1-7

11223344556677
11223344556677
11223344556677
11223344556677
11223344556677
11223344556677
11223344556677


Instead of...

111111111111
333333333333
222222222222
444444444444
777777777777
666666666666
555555555555

Not sure if it's a good idea yet or not....
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Unread 10-25-2013, 09:29 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

I would settle for a single, clearly demarcated pair of doors to the dome that will be opening, and a queue enclosed by a rope barrier or something that's long enough for a few thousand people to queue up.

Most of the safety hazards are caused by later-arriving teams skipping straight to the front and pushing through, and the crunch into the escalator and staircase since they are a bottleneck after too many doors are opened.
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Unread 10-25-2013, 10:05 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

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Originally Posted by Pat Fairbank View Post
Most of the safety hazards are caused by later-arriving teams skipping straight to the front and pushing through, and the crunch into the escalator and staircase since they are a bottleneck after too many doors are opened.
What about using the big ramps to get people in in the mornings? We used them leaving the concert in 2011, and I could've sworn they went down to street level. The extra width would allow for a variety of paces and more throughput during the first hour or so. Just put barricades or staff (or both) at the highest level people can enter.

Still not foolproof, but I'll take people being idiots on a gently-sloped ramp over people being idiots on stairs and escalators.
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Unread 10-25-2013, 10:42 PM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

I think the biggest issue with finding seating in the morning isn't teams getting seating to watch the matches, it's scouts getting seating to watch the matches.
That being said, I would love to see a nice area of the stands devoted to scouting and scouting only.

The other thing that I think can be done on a team level is educating your own teams on being professional during the mad morning rush. Don't take more seats than you need, and don't put your 40 students all in prime seating- put your scouts up front, your spirit gang can be in back. This also allows them to stand up without blocking other team's views. It's a win-win scenario.
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

The Boston Regional (which no longer exists. The venue will now become the NE District Championships site) Did as best of job as possible that did help. They only allowed people to go in through one of the doors in the morning, where their was security checks which enforced a line. Once in the lobby, they wouldnt allow anyone to go up the stairs till a certain time. Once that time hit, everyone had to go through turnstyles to get to the stairs.
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Unread 10-26-2013, 09:22 AM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

My biggest annoyance (as a volunteer) was the single entryway. The volunteer parking lot was on the complete opposite side of the arena. I don't know how many locked entrances I passed (with security personnel standing there watching me) and tried to enter with no success.

Yes. I'm whining.



But seriously, having another entrance on the other side of the arena unlocked would be nice and would help alleviate some stampeding.
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Unread 10-26-2013, 10:06 AM
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

What about a lottery system? Teams submit how many seats they need, then they are reserved. Period. No rush for anything since seats are predetermined.
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Re: FrankAnswersFridays: October 25, 2013: Safety at Championships

I completely agree with TheCascadeKid's idea. I was thinking along similar lines. When you register for Champs you need to submit a total number attending and then you are randomly assigned a block of seats (and I really like the vertical as opposed to horizontal idea). I also suggest that this rotates by day so that one team does not end up with "the good seats" for the entire event.

Also.......

We need to address the travesty of the mad seating rush for Einstein!!!

What happens every year is that so many people rush for seats on Einstein that there is hardly anyone left watching the Archimedes, Newton, etc. finals and awards. This is a travesty! If people had pre-assigned seating for Einstein then they would all stay and watch those finals instead of all trampeling each other to get to the "big show" seating.
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