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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Regional Planning and Coordination


Purpose of Regional Planning and Coordination

Regional planning and coordination for planned special events involves activities unrelated to a specific event. Stakeholders use regional planning initiatives to complete event operations planning, implementation activities, day-of-event activities, and post-event activities for individual, future planned special events more efficiently and effectively. In turn, post-event activities (e.g., participant evaluation, stakeholder debriefing meeting, evaluation report) performed for specific special events provide valuable input for on-going regional planning and coordination activities. The following points characterize the purpose of regional planning and coordination:

  • Mechanism for agencies to coordinate activities and work together;
  • Focus on continuously improving travel management for all planned special events in region;
  • Formal multi-agency program or initiative;
  • Champion and provide resources to pursue activities to improve on current practices; and
  • Multi-year program plan prioritizing initiatives to improve current practices program plan prioritizing initiatives to improve current practices.

Regional planning and coordination activities strive to improve travel management for all planned special events in a region. Involved stakeholders typically include mid-to-upper level representatives of transportation agencies and law enforcement, and additional stakeholders include elected officials, community civic and business leaders, regional organizations, and other government agencies.

Two successful examples of enhanced regional planning and coordination efforts include:

  • The Anaheim TOC (Transportation Operations Center) was established to manage and coordinate all the planned special events in the region in a more systematic way.
  • As a result of stakeholders working successfully together on the Goodwill games in Seattle, Washington, 1990, the camaraderie that resulted led to the development of long-term regional relationships for future planned special events as well as for day-to-day operations. Decision Maker's Role in Regional Planning and Coordination

Table 4-1 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker’s role in meeting the challenges pertinent to regional planning and coordination.

Table 4-1: Decision Maker's Role in Regional Planning and Coordination
  • Coordinate stakeholders serving an oversight role.
  • Establish a regional planned special event program.
  • Develop interagency agreements and legislation.
  • Establish a planned special event permit program.
  • Develop event permit regulations and guidelines.
  • Evaluate permanent and portable infrastructure needs.
  • Foster the use of checklists for event permit regulations and guidelines.

The decision maker's responsibility to the community relative to the planned special events purpose of regional planning and coordination is listed in Table 4-2.

Table 4-2: Decision Maker's Responsibility to Community
  • Need to include community interest stakeholders into the regional planning and coordination process.
  • Need to ensure that stakeholders review advance planning and operations activities to 1) minimize impacts on community quality of life, and 2) maximize potential social and economic benefits.

Regional Initiatives and Activities

Target Focus Areas of Regional Initiatives and Activities

Regional planning and coordination for all planned special events involves a dynamic set of actions initiated in response to specific stakeholder needs that represent a common thread among all future planned special events in the region. The need may not necessarily denote a specific transportation operations deficiency (e.g., known traffic bottleneck location, traffic/pedestrian safety issue). Instead, these actions create new procedures, strategies, resource applications, and infrastructure improvements that stakeholders can take advantage of time and time again in planning and operations activities for specific planned special events. The benefit of managing travel for all planned special events in a region is not measured by the program's impact on one planned special event but by the cumulative benefit of improving travel management for all future events. Continual improvement through new actions and refinement of existing initiatives occurs as new evaluation results and stakeholder feedback is obtained.

Table 4-3 presents the collective focus areas of regional initiatives and activities.

Table 4-3: Regional Initiative and Activity Focus Areas
  • Regional manuals and interagency agreements
  • Regional or consistent agency permit process
  • Recommended travel management practices for specific categories of planned special events
  • Technical teams formed to champion and carryout specific initiatives
  • Assess and report on benefits of regional and event-specific activities

Elements of Regional Manual on Planned Special Events

A regional manual on planned special events travel management integrates regional stakeholder roles and resources in addition to the needs of service providers and the general public into a document, unique to the region, for planned special event planning, operations, and evaluation. It helps facilitate consistent planning and operation for all planned special events in the region. Resulting benefits to stakeholders include: time savings, cost savings, assurance of review and input from all affected stakeholders, and increased efficiency of transportation system operations.

The regional manual on planned special events is similar to, and may reference, a documented planned special event permit process and guidelines for a particular jurisdiction. It may contain planning and operations checklists specific to each participating stakeholder in addition to action plan templates that vary by event category, event severity, and/or venue. It may address any or all of the following topics:

  • Categories and impact classification of planned special events in the region;
  • Stakeholder duties and responsibilities in planning for and managing travel for planned special events in the region;
  • Application of interagency agreements and other policies (e.g., standard street use event routes, emergency access routes, traffic flow routes) to planning and operations;
  • Guidelines and regulations on traffic and transportation operations;
  • Resource inventory and function;
  • Planning schedule and process for developing a traffic management plan and related products;
  • Stakeholder contact list and description of potentially available personnel and equipment resources;
  • Guidelines for data collection and analysis;
  • Guidelines for public outreach initiatives, both for planning and operations purposes;
  • Management logistics and protocol for interagency communication; and
  • Traffic control plan and implementation plan templates.

Function of a Regional Committee or Technical Team on Planned Special Events

Stakeholder coordination and collaboration represents the basis for facilitating each step necessary to manage travel for planned special events. However, after the planned special event concludes, there exists a need to sustain and nurture the established stakeholder relationships. A transportation committee on planned special events can carry out the iterative process of applying successes and lessons learned from a specific special event to future events in a region in addition to ensuring consistency and completeness in planning for and operating each successive planned special event. Participants may also work independent of the group or within smaller technical teams to evaluate potential new resource and technology applications (e.g., portable devices) that may improve an agency's performance and capabilities while meeting group objectives.

A planned special events transportation committee may evolve from: (1) a task force or traffic management team that handled a specific major planned special event or all planned special events at a particular venue, (2) a regional transportation committee, such as a traffic incident management committee, or (3) a regional organization or public agency acting as a champion for managing travel for planned special events. A champion will act through the committee to resolve institutional or operations issues affecting planned special event travel management. These individuals typically have the authority and position to mitigate circumstances hampering advance planning activities and/or day-of-event operations. They also promote stakeholder buy-in, thus facilitating committee growth.

Potential duties and responsibilities of a planned special events transportation committee may help to:

  • Develop agreements or memorandums of understanding for sharing agency resources or defining agency roles in planning for and/or managing travel on the day-of-event.
  • Implement and oversee regional planned special events programs and/or permit programs.
  • Create funding mechanisms and influencing transportation improvement programs.
  • Develop and coordinate public information campaigns.
  • Address technical, operational, and institutional issues.
  • Facilitate joint training and simulation exercises.
  • Assess existing planning and operations performance and recommending future needs.
  • Establish and monitor measures to reduce traffic and parking impacts to neighborhoods.

Purpose and Key Considerations of Planned Special Event Permitting

The purpose of the special event permit is to ensure that any changes, restrictions, or adaptations, resulting from such an event are managed in a safe, prudent, and legal manner in order to protect the health, safety, welfare, and convenience of the traveling public and citizens of the area.

The development of a formal planned special event permit program marks a key regional planning and coordination initiative to facilitate stakeholder coordination, compliance with community needs and requirements, and efficient event operations planning. Backed by guidelines and regulations specified in municipal ordinances, the program outlines a defined planning framework and schedule for event organizers and participating review agencies to follow. It represents an agreement between participating public agencies (e.g., transportation, law enforcement, public safety, etc.) to ensure, through planning activities or review, that all planned special events meet a set of mutually agreed upon requirements for day-of-event travel management. A municipal permit represents approval, or agreement between a jurisdiction and event organizer, to operate a planned special event, and it includes provisions outside of travel management.

The permitting process can identify many of the basic elements of the special event such as its timing, location and expected number of event patrons. Through a carefully constructed permitting process, transportation and public safety agencies can achieve a better sense of what resources these stakeholders need to handle the event.

The special event permit process serves to scope, schedule, and direct event operations planning activities for proposed events. This reduces unnecessary delay in facilitating stakeholder coordination, developing planning deliverables (e.g., traffic management plan, etc.), reviewing mitigation strategies, and mobilizing personnel and equipment resources required to stage a particular planned special event. Practitioners may expand and contract the process in order to best fit: (1) the area type and involved stakeholders, (2) the special guidelines and regulations unique to a particular jurisdiction, (3) the operations characteristics of a particular event, and (4) the purpose of a particular event, such as community events versus commercial, for-profit events involving event organizers from the private sector.

Some important considerations and applications of planned special event permitting include:

  • Permitting proves particularly effective for less frequent continuous events, street use events, and rural events occurring at a temporary venue not having a known spectator capacity. These events place an emphasis on advance planning and public outreach to mitigate traffic operations deficiencies and community impacts.
  • Jurisdictions may not require a permit for special events held at permanent venues, such as stadiums, arenas, and amphitheaters.
  • Permitting allows jurisdictions the opportunity to engage the event organizer at the beginning of the event operations phase.
  • Public stakeholders can size-up the event operations characteristics of a proposed event in order to schedule adequate personnel and equipment resources to accommodate the event. Resources may include traffic control, security, and maintenance.
  • From the event organizer's perspective, a special event permit application and associated regulations outlines a general approach toward successfully managing travel for the event, facilitates coordination with appropriate stakeholders, and gauges resource requirements on the day-of-event.

Decision Maker's Role in Regional Initiatives and Activities

Table 4-4 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in effecting regional initiatives and activities.

Table 4-4: Decision Maker's Role in Regional Initiatives and Activities
  • See that ongoing programs and initiatives are used to address general planned special event needs on a continual basis.
  • Foster the establishment at a regional planned special event manual.
  • Promote the development of interagency agreements and legislation.
  • Be ready to meet with decision makers from other stakeholder agencies to emphasize the need for buy-in from each participating agency.
  • Encourage the preparation of a planned special event permit program.
  • Ensure that decision criteria and thresholds are used to determine the need to initiate a special event permit process in addition to event permit requirements.
  • Foster the use of checklists for event permit regulations and guidelines.
  • Support the discussion of control, leadership, and turf issues.

The decision maker's responsibility to the community relative to the regional initiatives and activities are presented in Table 4-5.

Table 4-5: Decision Maker's Responsibility to Community
  • Need to establish a regional planned special events program that is an ongoing process designed to address a region's needs for managing special events that leads to the following community benefits:
    • Development of relationships that will extend to other operational areas.
    • Better communication and cooperation that will help in areas such as incident management and construction coordination.

Funding Mechanisms

Importance of Funding

Funding is an important consideration since it is needed to pay for the time of staff assigned to planning and coordination efforts. Without an identified source of funding, the participation of agencies is subject to the availability of financing from the home agencies of those asked to take a role. At times of budgetary restrictions, agencies may not choose to make staff members available for planning and coordination, or they may limit the time or number of staff members who are needed to formulate a plan. This could be especially true for agencies that are outside of the jurisdiction where the event is being held.

In his presentation at the 2nd National Conference on Managing Travel for Planned Special Events, David Kuehn of the FHWA revealed a cost program for Planned Special Events that has three components, each one building on or necessary for the next: personnel, cost management, and cost recovery. He recommended that a decision maker include the actions listed in Table 4-6 to manage costs for planned special events.

Table 4-6: Cost Management Program for Planned Special Events
Financial Management of Costs
  • Track, understand and communicate the full cost associated with supporting planned special events.
  • Track expenses associated with supporting planned special events at a program level through the budgeting process and at an event level through the use of financial accounting cost centers, personnel time sheets, equipment logs and material purchases.
  • Designate budget line items both for costs and revenues for federal events and non-federal planned special events.
  • Create time codes for major planned special events and classes of other planned special events such as street festivals and road races so the department and its units can designate personnel time, equipment and supplies to special events.
  • Disseminate along with the codes a standard reporting spreadsheet to organizational units that includes instructions or examples of how to calculate personnel rates and equipment costs.
    • Personnel rates should include regular and overtime and use a standard calculation for "loaded" costs or benefits and overhead.
    • If possible the spreadsheet should include equipment costs for vehicles by type and materials to ensure that costs among different units can be combined.
  • Report periodically overall costs to the heads of organizational units and department leadership.
    • Reports should include an assessment of personnel levels during planned special events, the use of overtime and equipment utilization.
    • Overtime reports should include a comparison of past year's costs.
Financial Management of Revenues via Cost Recovery
  • Track revenue associated with supporting planned special events at a program level through the budgeting process and at an event level through the use of financial codes and deposit accounts.
  • Estimate revenue from planned special events.
  • Assure that funds from planned special event organizers return to the Department.
    • Event charges need to be reconciled with actual revenues through an auditing process.
  • Update accounting codes and cost centers to assure that the fees return to the Department.
    • In many cases an event organizer makes a single payment to a city or state for fees from multiple agencies.
    • A Department may need to review the revenue process and develop new accounting codes and cost centers if department fees are being combined with fees from other agencies.
  • Assure that planned special event organizers are paying all fees due under current law.
    • A potential source of conflict and underpayment is the lack of customer awareness of department fees and services associated with planned special events. Accordingly, the department may wish to improve customer information.
  • Review existing fees.
    • After determining the actual costs and revenues associated with the planned special events program and with specific planned special events, a department may wish to review the fee structure to ensure it can continue to provide for public safety and mobility at planned special events.
  • Work with other organizational units and other departments to provide consolidated billing information to event organizers.
  • Account for correct costs consistently.
  • Evaluate and adjust costs.

Public agencies recover costs incurred in providing services during the event operations planning phase and resources on the day-of-event through event organizer fees and other funding mechanisms. The City of Los Angeles recognizes that the numerous planned special events held in their City have a positive impact on their economy. Los Angeles includes a line item in their annual budget for planned special events relative to equipment costs and staffing costs.

Successful Approaches for Cost Recovery

Table 4-7 describes five different approaches used by jurisdictions to obtain cost recovery for staff and equipment rental.

Table 4-7: Planned Special Event Funding Mechanisms
  • Event organizer pays a planned special event permit fee.
  • Event organizer pays a deposit with permit application submission.
  • Public agency sends post-event invoice to the event organizer for resources used.
  • Event organizer pays for estimated, required public agency resources before event.
  • A charge on each ticket sold is set to recover expenses incurred for providing extraordinary governmental services.
  • Event organizer posts a performance bond.

Reasons to Waive Cost Recovery Requirements

The social and economic benefits yielded by planned special events, in addition to the purpose of select events, result in jurisdictions as part of a political decision, periodically waiving cost recovery requirements even for privately sponsored special events. These decisions may be based on providing a public service or considered as a cost of economic development. For instance, Table 4-8 lists criteria that planned special events in Louisville, KY must meet for City provision of free services for event operation and management.

Table 4-8: Louisville, KY Criteria for Providing Free Services for a Special Event
  • Ability of the City to provide all or part of requested support services.
  • Extent to which the event is economically, socially, and culturally beneficial to the community.
  • Intended use by the sponsoring organization of any revenue over and above expenditures.
  • Impact of the event (positive or negative) on normal commercial activities.
  • Extent to which the event contributes toward the promotion of tourism.

Source: Festivals & Events: Policies & Procedures, City of Louisville, Kentucky

Decision Maker's Role in Funding

Table 4-9 presents the major efforts that should be considered in the decision maker's role in funding.

Table 4-9: Decision Maker's Role in Funding
  • Foster the recording of personnel and equipment costs incurred by each participating agency throughout the operation, planning, implementation, day-of-event and post-event phases to determine total costs expended for use in estimating costs and funds needed for future planned special events.
  • Examine a number of possible funding mechanisms to recover costs expended.
  • Consider the extent and ability of each agency to provide all or part of requested support services.
  • Ensure that the key participating agencies negotiate with the event organizer to establish the fair share reimbursement and responsibilities that include permit application fees, mitigation costs, performance bond costs, a charge on each ticket sold, etc.

Table 4-10 presents the decision maker's responsibility to the community concerning funding mechanisms for the purposes of managing travel for planned special events.

Table 4-10: Decision Maker's Responsibility to Community
  • Need to assure that the locality can provide the resources of staffing and equipment necessary for managing travel for the planned special event by identifying the source of funding.
  • Need to develop and implement a cost program for the locality, City or agency for planned special events that includes personnel, cost management and cost recovery.
  • Need to initiate the actions for a cost management program listed in Table 4-6 so that funds the locality, City or agency obtains from cost recovery efforts can return to the Department.
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