- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
We bring you here a Q&A with Craig Edwards, General Manager, Mojo Barriers Australia.
From the news we know of summit conferences of the G8 and G20, and sports events such as London 2012 with perimeter security – just how robust, thick and high do the fences have to be?!
The High Fence is a temporary security barrier designed to withstand large crowd pressures, which has been tested extensively by the Australian military.
With high-profile delegates and heads of state including Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin in attendance, the Brisbane G20 organisers needed to create safe, secure routes and segregated areas throughout the city. The system was required to create restricted zones across the city and form protective walls around the event’s venues, including the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (pictured).
The resulting product, High Fence, consists of 1m wide and 2.4m high sections of reinforced aluminium barrier with a see-through polycarbonate upper. The fence’s height has helped create an impenetrable barrier that people can’t jump. Vehicle modifications can be made if required meaning even if rammed with a vehicle, the barriers still withstand.
The G20 required a type of barrier that did not need to be pinned to the ground but could withstand large crowd attacks, and not be penetrable – but also transparent to a certain level. With this in mind we knew our original front of stage barrier would be perfect with some sort of extension to get to the desired 2.4 metres in height. We quickly found that a steel galvanised stand-brace being fitted between each section of barrier was the way forward, as it connected flawlessly without any rough edges and without the crowd being able to dismantle. Then it was a matter of deciding what sort of material was going to be used as an in-fill between each brace/stand. After months of testing we found that polycarbonate was the best product as it does not shatter like Perspex, which is vital in the fence maintaining its strength and durability in the event of an attack. Being able to stack 280 metres of High Fence on a semi-trailer, also meant we could limit our truck movements in and out of the city and ensure fast deployment-dismantle.
What of the different requirements – there may be a call for the perimeter fence to blend in, or the wish might be quite the opposite, to be obvious, so as to deter attempts at breaches?
With so many global media and world leaders descending on the city, organisers stipulated clear sight lines to give an open and visible feel. High Fence is aesthetically attractive compared to the usual Heras fencing and similar types of barricade used at major events, this was essential considering the media and broadcast attention garnered by the summit. The upper sections can be coloured to blend in with surroundings or solid panels can be installed to create sight kills to block of views and create privacy. At the G20, protests were a possibility, so the barrier needed to withstand aggressive attacks, but not obscure views for security and military teams. The local authorities wanted a welcoming atmosphere and the physical look of the barriers needed to be completely un-threatening, not impacting on the welcoming feel of the city.
Another issue that may not have a black and white answer – what’s the balance between a perimeter being deployable, and not being so easy to move that protesters or gate-crashers can push through it?!
The High Fence cannot be pushed through or easily jumped by protesters. The product was vigorously tested by the Australian military and withstood chainsaws, bullets and light ballistics and was proven to be extremely strong. It’s evolution from our proven event stage barrier system means it is quick to install, allowing organisers to minimise disruption and enable quick layout changes. This quick deployment meant that our expert team installed over 2km of the product in just 48 hours, with the de-rig taking just 12 hours in total. Our barriers have been tested on tens of thousands of fans at festivals and concerts all over the world and all our products are tested to withstand pressures of 5KN.
There are certain things we can not mention regarding why the High Fence is so strong as that is purely a design creation. Think about it – a fence that is completely solid from bottom to top, that can not be pushed over but takes minutes to erect and does not need to be pinned to the ground below it. We will always pride ourselves on making sure our products are completely put through their paces before they go out into the public arena. This gives us complete confidence that we can stick to deadlines and stand behind our products no matter what.
Does the surface that the perimeter is placed on matter? As wet ground may be quite different from a tarred road.
No, barriers are designed to work on live event sites, and whether this be a green-field festival site or Kings Day in the Netherlands they are adapted to suit the event. Like any safety barrier that we install, we work together with the client to ensure the safest possible configuration and we spend time getting to grips with the area before any installation process. The High Fence was a bespoke design for the Brisbane G20 and was built with location in mind. The intelligent design consisted of curb risers to allow the system to remain stable over uneven ground and roads. The extending floor plate design means that once installed, the barrier uses crowd weight to help secure it, and the floor plates can be connected together to create a level surface and reduce trip hazards. Location pins were used to fix and strengthen connections and enable barriers to negotiate uneven terrain.
Vehicle and pedestrian gates were also designed and installed to allow access in and out of restricted areas, without compromising the strength.
Given that a perimeter is only as strong as its weakest point, what of that join-point where the perimeter meets gates / roads?
The whole barrier was tested by the Australian military, including focussed attacks on the hinges and joins, which proved that no aspect of the barrier was a weak point. The barrier is designed to be linked and to act as a unit without weak points; as barrier sections are added, the unit becomes stronger.
Do procurers of perimeters mind about product colour?!
The standard High Fence is silver; however it can be coated with any colour in line with procurer requirements. Sight kills can also be added onto the upper sections to block off sight lines and create private areas, and the clear upper can be replaced with any colour to match requests.
Anything else that readers might like to know?
The High Fence was a bespoke design for the G20 summit and over 2.5k (2500m) of the product was fabricated in the Netherlands – where our global headquarters is based – shipped to Australia and installed across the city by our Australian team. Doors and gates were also manufactured which integrated into the barrier line, to ensure fire safety and access and egress regulations could be met.
The installation process occurred in Australia’s summer season where temperatures hit 30 degrees C and over. We had crew working in full PPE – vital to meet Australian health and safety and CDM regulations. Although each barrier section can be put up by one person, the tough timeframe and sheer scale of the operation meant it was the most complex and challenging of our Australian office to date.
Our Mojo Barriers have kept crowds safe at festivals, tours and events all over the globe, including TomorrowWorld, Lollapalooza, Big Day Out, Metallica and Beyonce, as well as being integrated into existing stadium facilities. This year has seen our team tour with The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift, Usher, AC/DC and country music legend Kenny Chesney, and we have provided barriers to a number of festivals and live events.
We started off pure rock and roll, but now our products can be seen at different event genres throughout the world. As we continue our work within the music industry, this year we’re also focussing on the security industry and we see huge potential for our ‘High Fence’ within this sector. From sporting venues, airports, city security to ensuring the safety of high profile guests, the High Fence has so many benefits.