Sweden's oldest festival improves security & reduces crime

Malmo, Sweden

The festival attracts around 1.4 million visitors and security and safety is paramount.

Crime fell sharply at the annual Malmö Festival following the deployment of a new security solution which according to reports resulted in fewer violent crimes, more people being detained and the number of sexual offences fell by 73 per cent.

The Malmö Festival is Sweden’s oldest city festival and is held in August every year. The festival is free to enter and attracts approximately 1.4 million visitors of all ages and nationalities.

The security and safety of visitors and artists is of paramount importance when the festival is held. The organisers of the festival, the Traffic and Property Management Department in Malmö City, have therefore worked tirelessly to improve security. In 2018, an initiative was launched to enhance security measures in collaboration with the Swedish Police Authority, Skåne Regional Council and Rescue Service South.

The new solution that includes Axis network cameras provides quick and clear information in the event of an incident, including what and who caused it, so that interventions can take place quickly.

“For the 2018 festival we wanted to collect better decision-making data, and by using technology, we could quickly get an overview of the current situation should anything happen. That allowed us to undertake a quick and effective situation analysis”, says Magnus Fjällström. “By using technology, staffing can be made more efficient, while safety standards are just as high.” 

Unfortunately, festivals and mass gatherings involve a risk of sexual harassment, abuse, terrorist acts and sabotage. The police’s objective was to work proactively and with incident prevention, rather than reaction, so they could effectively detect and deter delinquent behaviour before anything serious happened. The Swedish Police Authority had previously had a few cameras at the Malmö Festival.

One element of the security solution consisted of vehicle barriers with sensors, which sounded an alarm if someone tried to move the barrier, and a nearby camera then zoomed in and filmed the event. Vehicle barriers are of the utmost importance to prevent vehicles from driving into crowds, regardless of whether it's an act of terrorism, drink-driving or illness related.

In addition, software was installed on the cameras to count visitors, and to monitor the flow of people in different areas. This helped the festival meet its licensing requirements for how many people are allowed to assemble in a certain area at the same time, as well as to estimate how many security guards were needed. The organisers could also estimate crowd flows to determine how many staff members were needed in certain areas.

In addition, the cameras filmed audience members in close proximity to the stages in real time. “Despite smoke machines and the challenges of spotlights in different colours, and thus difficult lighting situations, the cameras worked very well and provided good quality images. Axis’ network cameras are very impressive”, says Magnus Fjällström.

The new security solution has resulted in a sharp fall in crime. At the Malmö Festival in 2018, the number of cases of assault fell by almost 13 per cent and the number of sexual offences fell by 73 per cent. Furthermore, considerably more people were detained thanks to evidence in the form of image material.


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