Crowd dynamics and dangers
As the Crown Residences, Barangaroo Metro station and other major Barangaroo projects are built over the coming years, the residential population and average daily foot traffic throughout the Barangaroo precinct is set to considerably increase. These larger crowds will require Barangaroo Delivery Authority to employ effective crowd management measures in order to reduce potential hazards and over-congestion. Crowd management delivers benefits beyond safety, including the efficient use of space and enhanced experience for visitors. An enhanced visitor experience can contribute to improved reputation and greater financial performance throughout the precinct.
Knowing your crowd
There are two main types of crowds, static and dynamic crowds, with the key differentiator being the presence of movement. Dynamic crowds vary greatly depending on the intent of the crowd and are considered to be more dangerous given their unpredictability and larger space requirements. Excessive or rapid movement of dynamic crowds – walking, running, swaying, surging – pose the greatest risks to public safety, in some cases leading to injury and on occasion death. This can be the result of poor crowd flow, creating a crush, or unpredictable rapid movement leading to a stampede.
Not all dynamic and static crowds are the same, there are a variety of different dynamic and static crowds and understanding the differences between these variants will help Barangaroo Delivery Authority better understand how to manage them. Some key crowd variants include:
- Motivated crowds
- Panicked crowds
- Commuter crowds
- Tourist crowds
- Activist crowds
- Expressive crowds
While all crowds act differently and need to be managed accordingly, it is important to remember that crowds can quickly change types. In 2005, a commuter crowd in Baghdad, Iraq very quickly turned into a panicked crowd due to a bomb scare. Poor crowd flow and panic lead to the death of over 950 people.
Tips for effectively managing a crowd
Planning for the crowd:
Ensure that your precautions to manage a crowd are adequate and appropriate for the expected number and type of visitor and the situation at hand.
Identify and prevent conditions where high crowd densities and moving crowds could create complications.
- This may be achieved by controlling the crowd density in an area and/or creating ‘balanced’ flow systems where the capacity for crowd flow out of an area is the same or higher than the capacity for crowd flow in.
- Good signage. Help people find their way around. A large part of crowd control is about making sure everyone knows where they’re going.
Crowd management involves both managing the environment and the people who interact with it. It is important to look out for both hazards presented by the precinct and the crowd.
Hazards presented by the precinct:
- Slipping or tripping due to inadequately lit areas or poorly maintained surfaces
- Moving vehicles sharing the same route as pedestrians
- Collapse of a structure, such as a fence or barrier
- People being pushed against objects
- Temporary objects that obstruct movement and cause congestion
- Crowd movements obstructed by people queuing
- Crossflows as people cut through the crowd to get to other areas
Hazards presented by a crowd:
- Crushing between people
- Crushing against fixed structures, such as barriers
- Trampling underfoot
- Surging, swaying or rushing
- Aggressive behaviour
- Dangerous behaviour (e.g. such as climbing on equipment)
The invisible costs of disruptions to physical infrastructure
Disruptions to key landmarks and infrastructure can have much larger impacts on the community than what is seen on face value. Major disruptions can make accessing parts of the city more difficult and in some cases, force closure of certain location for safety reasons.
This was seen in April 2018 when a man unlawfully climbed up on of the beams on the Harbour Bridge. The individual kept moving around the structure for a number of hours, causing traffic chaos as Police continuously had to close and re-open lanes based of where the individual was moving. More recently, in July this year a protester parked his car on the Harbour Bridge and climbed up one of the bridges arches to protest against the Government of Iran. Both these events caused significant disruptions to road and rail commuters for several hours.
In the wake of these events, multiple Government agencies have received considerable negative press due to poor physical security, with CCTV black spots making it easy for motivated individuals to cause such disruption.
What are the invisible costs of these disruptions?
Disruptions such as these have a much broader effect on third parties than most would think. Terry Rawnsley, an expert in economics at the consultancy SGS Economics and Planning, analysed a similar situation, which revealed that a major disruption on the Harbour Bridge at certain times of the day could be expected to cost the city around 1 per cent of its daily economic output, approximately $5-10 million (as a percentage of the city’s GDP).
The two key drivers behind this cost are people being prevented or delayed from reaching work, reducing output for the day and the reduction in money spent within the city by these individuals.
Naturally, some of Sydney’s industry sectors are better placed than others to limit the impact of incidents similar to these through more robust business continuity planning, such as IT, finance and professional services, as they have more flexibility to adjust the time and location of their activities, such as working from home. The industries that are most impacted by these types of disruptions include retail, hospitality, health, arts and logistics, as it is much more difficult to adjust work times and locations.
Why should this be of importance to Barangaroo Delivery Authority?
As the focal point of Sydney’s CBD begins to shift towards the Barangaroo precinct, the responsibilities of Barangaroo Delivery Authority will grow with it. While this shift comes with it benefits, it also heightens the risk of further disruptions as the precinct becomes a more popular spot for disruptors including protesters, due to its public exposure. Being well prepared to prevent disruptions such as these will become increasingly important as the number of high profile clients and expensive infrastructure continues to grow within the area. If Barangaroo’s security measures do not serve one of their key purposes, protection, it would likely raise concerns around the safety of individuals and infrastructure if vulnerabilities in the precinct’s CCTV were to be discovered. Furthermore, the operational and financial impacts that businesses would incur as a result of a disruption may create unwanted legal disputes, causing further reputational damage for a growing area of Sydney.
Having the proper infrastructure and strategies in place to mitigate the risk of similar disruptions, will also come with it such benefits as boosting consumer confidence and making the precinct a more appealing location to conduct business.
Recent construction sagas have exposed ‘deep cracks’ in Australia’s approach to building regulation.
In December last year, the Opal Tower in Sydney Olympic Park was evacuated after cracks appeared in the upper floors, only to later expose the severity of cracks in the building’s basement. It has been revealed the cracking was due to inadequate grouting and the use of lower strength concrete around structural beams, leading to excessive stress on the buildings foundational structure.
This isn’t the only building in the past year that has experienced structural cracking and other construction issues in Sydney. Apartment blocks in Zetland and Mascot were evacuated due to structural defects in June and a development in Erskenville remains uninhabited 12 months after its completion due to concerns over improper toxic land clean up.
The closure of these apartments is raising concerns around the appropriateness of Sydney’s regulation concerning building construction and safety, leading the Berejiklian Government to announce their decision to investigate the matter and implement changes to ensure safety and restore confidence in the building and construction industry.
What does this mean for the Barangaroo community?
If the Government’s investigations expose considerable flaws in building construction and safety regulation, it may cause a construction crisis. Previously compliant buildings may become non-compliant, developments may be put on hold and proposed developments may need to be re-planned and re-certified before they are again approved. Such a construction crisis would have ramifications on the entire Barangaroo community, ranging from small vendors to major developers, as well as Barangaroo Delivery Authority.
While small vendors are unlikely to experience the direct ramifications of revised regulations, they are instead more likely to be exposed to considerable second hand financial and operational impacts. Delayed construction times of nearby major developments would likely see a reduction in foot traffic in the area, and with it, a dip in vendor revenue.
In the case that regulatory standards were revised, builders may be required to undertake further training and certification before being allowed to recommence any construction. This could place considerable delays on estimated completion times and with it, higher expenses as developers continue to pay contractors until the delayed work comes to cessation. Developers of residential apartments in the precinct, such as Crown, may be faced with negative media attention for not adhering to their proposed completion dates, displacing future residents, possibly leading to legal disputes.
In the case that previously constructed building are now deemed non-compliant, forcing temporary closure, developers may face further financial and legal disputes as large corporations have to relocate their operations.
Barangaroo Delivery Authority
Major development issues throughout the precinct may restrict accessibility and the appeal of certain iconic Barangaroo Delivery Authority managed spaces such as Stargazer Lawn and the Cutaway. Furthermore, if faced with regulatory issues such as non-compliance, Barangaroo Delivery Authority may be forced to cancel booked events until spaces are reapproved.
Food for thought
Is there the potential for Barangaroo Delivery Authority’s reclaimed land development to create problems for the wider Barangaroo community? Given its manmade nature, is there the possibility of the reclaimed land being structurally unsound or possibly sinking? Could the proposed regulatory reforms surrounding building development and safety be just the tip of the iceberg for wider construction reform, which would bring bringing these questions to attention?
Reclaimed and artificial land’s long-term stability has come into question in recent years, with projects such as Kansai International Airport in Japan and Dubai’s Palm Islands sinking back into the sea.
2019 Baltimore Ransomware Attack
On May 7 2019, The City of Baltimore had its servers compromised by a strain of ransomware allowing hackers to digitally seize approximately 10,000 Government computers blocking access and shutting down a number of systems. City employees have been locked out of their email accounts and citizens have been unable to access essential services, including websites where they pay their water bills, property taxes, and parking tickets. If the Baltimore Government wants to regain access to the computers and systems, the Government must pay approximately $100,000 to the hackers. The city Government is refusing to pay the ransom.
This type of ransomware has been used to target Government bodies in the past, notably the UK’s National Health Service in 2017.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that restricts people and businesses from accessing their computer systems, or files stored on them. Cyber attackers extort money from their targets by holding their devices or data to ransom, often threatening to release or erase it to force payment.
What could this mean for Barangaroo Delivery Authority?
Ransomware is capable of targeting a number of different technological aspects of a business that can affect its ability to perform critical functions. If Barangaroo Delivery Authority were attacked by ransomware, there may be several key areas compromised, hindering the agency’s ability to manage the waterfront precinct.
If Barangaroo Delivery Authority’s communications were compromised as a result of a ransomware attack, email and websites could be inaccessible or shut down. This would create friction liaising with contractors to arrange repairs, handle complaints or book events. Similarly, with websites being down, Barangaroo Delivery Authority would not be able to accept payments via website, stalling upcoming payments until the system is unlocked.
In addition, Barangaroo Delivery Authority may face denial of access to necessary files and data, causing significant disruption to operations. If files and data are not properly backed up, there could be considerable financial and legal ramifications if hackers choose to erase data as a result of a ransom not being paid. Which raises the question…
Pay the ransom or pay for the repair?
Being a tax payer funded Government agency puts Barangaroo Delivery Authority in a similar position to Baltimore city:
- Pay the ransom to potentially regain file and system access, but face the reputational damage of a Government agency funding hackers, or
- Don’t pay the ransom and face the consequence of disrupted operations, expense of replacing devices, and loss of operating data.
In the past, Government agencies have stood by not paying ransoms, only to be hit with a much larger repair bill. The 2018 NHS attack in the UK eventually cost the British Government $160 million in damages and the anticipated cost of the Baltimore attack has passed $25 million.
“A new business will fall victim to ransomware every 14 seconds in 2019 and every 11 seconds by 2021.” – Cybersecurity Ventures.
Dealing with Ransomware
To ensure Barangaroo Delivery Authority is well prepared in the future, there are a number of preventative practices that can mitigate the chances of being hacked:
- Back up your systems locally and remotely
- Install ransomware protection software to help identify potential attacks
- Run frequent security scans on your systems
- Teach your employees how to examine links and attachments to make sure they are coming from reliable sources
- Enforce strong password security
- Block unknown email addresses and attachments on your mail server
- Install the latest software and operating system updates and patches