The invisible hand that leads us - interview with Petter Säterhed - Briab - Brand, Risk & Säkerhet

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The invisible hand that leads us - interview with Petter Säterhed

New at Briab is one of Sweden's, if not Europe's, most experienced crowd management experts. In the interview below, he will tell us more about crowd management. With 24 years' experience of some of Sweden's largest and most complex events such as Peace & Love, Gumball 3000, Way Out West, the Vasaloppet, the Malmö Festival and the Swedish Skiing Championships in Falun, Petter is the one who guides the job of creating safe, fun and efficient events. A bit like the invisible hand, as we see it. But let's hear it straight from Petter.

crowd management

Hi Petter!

Thanks for taking the time to tell us a bit about yourself and what you work with. Let’s start with yourself!

Tell us about yourself and your background.

OK, I’m a 48-year-old father of two from Värmland. I’ve worked all my adult life with creating good safety, security and experiences. First I considered becoming a teacher, journalist or police officer, but in 1995 I chanced into event security, when a friend asked me to work at the Arvika Festival, to be in charge of the gates.

At the festival a few things happened which meant that both the heads of security had to hand over responsibility for security to someone else, for a short time. It turned out that that person was me. So the first time I have ever been to a festival, I find myself in sole charge of security for five hours. And this was a festival with 50 artists, and The Prodigy as the headline act.

During those five hours I discovered two things: I had a talent for it, and, which might be even more important, it was the most fun thing I’d ever done. Ever. So I kept at it.

crowd management

Crowd management – explain it to the uninitiated. What is it, and when do we need it?

Crowd management is about creating the right conditions for crowds and flows of people. You analyze how people will move about at a particular place, and you decide how, optimally, they should move, and then you get them to want to move that way. That is, you don’t force them. The aim is that the visitor won’t even reflect on their choices.

Safety and security are obvious benefits, but a better experience, higher sales and increased efficiency are other benefits worth mentioning.

And of course this is useful – perhaps even necessary – everywhere we expect flows and lots of people in motion. It could be an event, a city center, an arena, a transport hub or a shopping center.

What got you interested in the field?

I had some involvement with crowd management back in 1997, the first time I was head of security at a large event. But it wasn’t before an accident occurred at another festival that I started to really delve deeper into it. When a young woman died at the Hultsfred Festival in 1999, the entire Swedish events sector, and I read everything I could find about crowd management.

crowd management

Now you’re working with us, 140 colleagues at Briab. What convinced you to join the team?

It was probably a combination of different things. The vision for the future, but also that Briab has managed to gather people who aren’t just the “best and brightest”, but also the nicest, under one roof. I felt I wanted to be a part of this.

Looking ahead three years, what will have happened with you, crowd management and Briab?

We will have established Crowd Management as an integral part of the building industry, and have helped further professionalize the events industry, which is young.

Of any event worldwide, what do you dream of organizing?

Probably Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. Or maybe an Olympic Games.

Is there a motto you live by, or try to live by?

A few different ones, but one that sounds hard but that is very true is “Faith is good, control is better”.

Thank you, Petter, for the chat. We are proud and delighted to have you as our new colleague, and we look forward to all the new opportunities this will bring to the skill-sets we already have. Not to mention our constantly increasing ability to help our clients stay on the right side of risk!

For more information, contact:
  • Johan Norén
    Business Manager New Technologies/
    Member of the Board of Directors
    johan.noren@briab.se
    08-406 66 06
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