Emergency center new for Manifest

By Lauren Kelly

An expanded and more organized security system will be in place during this year’s Manifest on May 15.

In past years, the festival has had an emergency hotline and e-mail service available for attendees, as well as increased security personnel on campus. On the day of Manifest, the old system will be in place, along with a new command center to be located on the 5th floor of the 916 Building, 916 S. Wabash Ave.

“It’s a central location where all the data is kept and where communications would center from,” said Bob Koverman, associate vice president of Safety and Security.

The details of the system are still being decided, and Manifest coordinators are working with Koverman to complete the program’s design.

“We are still finalizing the plans for how the old system is integrating with the new system,” said Jennifer Friedrich, Manifest events coordinator.

She said the creation of a command center was not in response to any past incidents, but to be cautious and make sure attendees are safe.

“In the eight years we’ve been having Manifest, we’ve only had one incident,” she said. “Someone was caught drinking. That’s it. We’ve had good organization and security. “

Friedrich said there will be two components to the security system at Manifest: one to manage the outside events and one for internal building security. Both components were in place last year, but now they will be connected to the command center via radio.

Like past years, Wackenhut, the college’s security provider, will internally manage the campus buildings. The firm will hire extra employees on the day of the festival where needed.

“Outside we have to focus on crowd control and disorderly behavior,” Friedrich said. “The parade is a big issue. We have to make sure everyone is safe crossing the streets. We also have to keep an eye on the sound levels.”

In the event of a serious emergency, police and firemen would respond to the situation.

Koverman said the new emergency operations system is not unlike those present at a Big 10 football game.

Other large events in Chicago also have emergency centers in place, such as Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago, but Koverman said Manifest’s command center will not be as large or complex as those events.

“It’s an experiment we’re going to try,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to give this a try for the first time and give people some exposure to it.”