Modelling Search Systems for #Events

Author / Mark Breen
19 Apr ‘18
Modelling for events is probably not what you think it is. At least not all of the time anyway. Modelling can be quite easy to do and highly effective in helping plan safe events. One of the most useful models we use is one for modelling search systems.

This article was originally published as an article over on my LinkedIn

It has been adapted & amended slightly for use here


When you use the word 'modelling' with regard to events and search or queuing systems, people generally tend to think of something complicated or a simulation showing loads of little 'agents' wandering around a computer-generated environment.

Modelling can be so much simpler than that though and, in my experience, some of the best and most useful modelling I do is in Excel and doesn't require an in-depth knowledge of Excel by any means.

Your Mammy is always right

My mother has been telling me for many, many years that Excel is a really powerful piece of software and that the vast majority of people barely scratch the surface of what it's capable of. She doesn't claim to be any expert herself but having spent her working life as an accountant and financial controller, she's made constant use of Excel over the years.

She's right, I'm sure, but as someone with a brain designed more for languages and creativity rather than figures and mathematics, I'll have to take her word for it.

My use of Excel is quite limited but quite impactful when it comes to our #crowdsafety and #eventsafety work.

Modelling search systems

I have recently reviewed and improved our Search Capacity Calculation model, which I've done in Excel. I'm sure many of my international colleagues use something similar. It's not difficult and, if I can do it, then anyone can. Genuinely.

There are a range of variables to consider when we're deliberating on the best search system to use for a given event. They include:

  • The number of search lanes we will use
  • The number of people searching at the top of each lane
  • The space available to us to set up the search area
  • The budget available for staff to perform searches
  • The type of search we want staff to conduct
  • The level of queuing deemed acceptable for the particular event
  • The pressure to clear queues and get people into the event

The above is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but hopefully helps illustrate my point that, with so many variables, having a model to plug values into that helps determine the optimum search system is quite a handy tool.

The bottom line

Maths and modelling play a part in planning for the safety of crowds at events. You do not need to be any sort of mathematical genius to develop your own simple Excel models that you can employ to streamline this element of your event planning process.

Remember too that streamlined processes are helpful from an audit trail perspective, should you ever find yourself in court.

We used this tool effectively very recently when meeting with key statutory agencies and looking to establish consensus on how we were going to approach the search regime for a large upcoming event. Sometimes presenting things visually / graphically can be extremely effective. 

Any thoughts or feedback are welcome. Use the comments section below.

If you feel you need a hand planning your event and ensuring your attendees are safe and happy, then you know where we are.