Shielding the Attendees

Shielding the Attendees

Vehicle tragedies emphasize need for pedestrian protection at large events

By their very nature, terrorist attacks and errant drivers, who can also create untold damage, are unpredictable and predicated on surprise. Staying one step ahead by identifying vulnerable areas, and securing them, is critical to staving off vehicular attacks. That means being able to deploy security equipment in tough conditions, at a moment’s notice.

Terrorists typically don’t go where they see barricades, so placing them wherever possible attacks can happen reduces security risks dramatically. Temporary barriers are often used to protect facilities while permanent ones are being built. Plus, they’ve even been effective for the long-term where physical conditions preclude permanent solutions. Such are the cases at two very different events thousands of miles apart, New Orleans’ annual Mardi Gras and the Commonwealth Games held four years apart at varying British commonwealth nations.

This has been happening for some time—vehicles being used as weapons. Several years ago, on Dec. 19, 2016, the news exploded with information about a vehicle attack on a Christmas market in Berlin that killed at least 12 and injured more than 50. Less than a month before, the U.S. State Department had warned about such attacks in public places throughout Europe, saying that extremist groups including the Islamic State and Al Qaeda were planning to focus on such locales during the Holiday Season.

According to Aaron Miller, New Orleans’ director of homeland security and preparedness, said three barriers were initially towed into location just prior to the 2017 NBA All-Star game. Miller said that in certain situations the portable barriers are more efficient than current measures. Instead of police officers using patrol cars to close streets, the barriers free officers to take care of other important police matters. Miller also stated that the city intends to purchase more portable barriers to block additional French Quarter intersections.

Unfortunately, in New Orleans, obtaining extra vehicle protection quickly became a focal point since an intoxicated driver injured at least 28 people when smashing into the Krewe of Endymion parade, the largest at Mardi Gras, at one of the yet unprotected intersections. Just as a terrorist can use a vehicle as a weapon to harm many people quickly as in Berlin, the same results can be caused by an errant driver.

As a result, temporary vehicle barriers were later erected in New Orleans’ French Quarter to restrict vehicle access to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. The barriers, which were placed along cross streets intersecting Bourbon, helped ensure no vehicles had access to the heavily traveled walkways as Mardi Gras participants celebrated in the Quarter. The barriers were raised at 5 p.m. from Feb. 22 through Mardi Gras‚ which ended on Feb. 28, and lowered at 5 a.m. or earlier depending on crowds. New Orleans plans to continue use of the portable barriers during special events in the future.

In the Land Down Under

In Australia, the Commonwealth Games, held in April 2018, on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, included 4,400 athletes from 70 Commonwealth nations throughout the world, competing in 19 championship sports. It was the largest sporting event in Australia since the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Organizers required a vehicle access system that could be rapidly deployed and would create secure vehicle check points that carried crash-certification.

“Barriers protected major event venues including the main games stadium, Gold Coast Convention Centre, the Athletes Village and critical street closures throughout the Gold Coast area,” said Matthew Knight, director of Knight Brothers. “It was important for the Games’ operations that access for emergency and authorized vehicles was maintained through the duration of the event.”

Security focus had begun years prior to the games. The focus went beyond hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) measures to include various other identified security risks. Perimeter security measures were aligned with the recently implemented Australia and New Zealand Counter Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) strategy for the protection of places of mass gatherings. A core element of this strategy was the effective and practical implementation of HVM measures at key locations. As the Australian partner of Delta Scientific, Knight Brothers Pty Ltd secured the contract for the vehicle barrier systems in late 2017 and liaised closely with organizers to ensure that specific security measures could be achieved through implementing mobile barrier systems.

In both New Orleans and the Australian Gold Coast, the totally self-contained MP5000’s tow into position to control vehicle access within 15 minutes. No excavation or sub-surface preparation is required. Once positioned, the mobile barricades will unpack themselves by using hydraulics to raise and lower the barriers off their wheels. DC-powered pumps will then raise or lower the barriers. These mobile deployable vehicle crash barriers carry a K8 rating (M40 ASTM rating), stopping seven and a half ton vehicles traveling 40 mph.

“The primary use of the 20-foot portable barriers was in public areas where ground fixation or in-situ HVM measures were not practical or achievable,” Matthew said. “Barriers were deployed in a variety of configurations in order to meet security and access needs. This included direct access points as well as heightened temporary security check points with stringent vehicle inspections undertaken by Australian Defense Force staff. Secure access points at other locations were operated by contracted security staff.”

At the Games, stand-alone battery-operated hydraulic systems with supplementary solar power charging and remote-control operation activated the barriers and allowed a high rate of vehicle throughput in meeting specific operational requirements.

“Training of barrier deployment and operation was conducted directly to Commonwealth Games security staff during barrier delivery and commissioning. This ensured seamless integration of the systems across the various deployment locations,” said Daniel Knight, director of Knight Brothers. “We were very proud to be a part of this prestigious sporting event and to provide the first known deployment of portable active vehicle barriers systems on Australian soil.”

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Security Today.

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