What should an event company’s head of risk have on their watch list for 2019?14 Jan 2019
Changes to the law and emerging new technologies could usher in some fundamental changes to the management of risk for event companies in the coming year.
The events before Christmas at Gatwick with over 140,000 passengers affected when the airport was closed due to illegal drones allegedly flown by eco protesters shows that new technology has a downside. Calls for a tightening of the law with regards to drones misses the point. There are perfectly good laws which were tightened this year to control the use of legally manufactured and legally flown drones. The problem is that with new technology not only can drones fly further for longer, it is possible to build an illegal drone without the inbuilt controls that would prevent such an incursion. Tightening the law does not work against protesters or terrorists already bent on breaking the law and whose intentions will not be deterred by new legislation. Gatwick’s spokesperson unhelpfully admitted on television that they are virtually powerless to prevent this kind of incident which presumably now means that we can expect a spate of copycat incidents in the coming year. The events industry is quite well informed with regards to the threat posed by drones as they are used extensively and legally at events for a wide variety of functions from filming to crowd monitoring. However the pace of technical changes means that we must make renewed efforts to understand the threat as technology changes.
Whilst Lithium batteries are a potential fire hazard, new battery technology is again advancing quickly and requires that we rethink our approach to temporary electrics. Venues are rightly concerned with fire safety and by default control access to mains supplies. The obvious solution is to ban the use of rechargeable batteries for use other than in portable items. The main issue is not mainstream manufactured portable batteries but cheap imitations made in the far East. Does this, however, miss the point? Is there potential for venues or contractors to provide power in the form of rechargeable batteries making mains single phase connections virtually redundant? Certainly it would be of great benefit in developing countries where the mains connections are often far more dangerous than a battery solution would be. Do we need to redefine what we mean by mains supply? Whilst this may seem fanciful, the idea of Formula E, basically electric racing cars, sponsored by all the main motor manufactures with its own world championship would have seemed fanciful until it started a few years ago. Now it is a mainstream motor racing fixture.
These are only two examples and the lesson is clear, the industry needs to do some horizon gazing to identify the threat and opportunities that these and other new technologies pose.