Case study: World Urban Forum

The highly secured event saw Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre gazetted as a ‘sovereign’ space.

The ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF) took place in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) in February and saw a total of 22,000 attendees from around the world stream into the Malaysian capital over the course of a week. Convened by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the event saw delegates and speakers sharing knowledge around the topic of city planning and development.

This wasn’t your everyday forum in that the venue was gazetted by the UN and treated as a ‘sovereign’ space, much like a global UN headquarter is. The event was led by Urbanice Malaysia, a private entity put together by Malaysia’s Ministry of Housing and Local Government. However, many services and resources were outsourced.

KLCC was gazetted as a 'sovereign' space by the UN.

Local PCO Anderes Fourdy was tasked to take care of key logistical aspects including registration, accreditation, security, and mobile communications. As the company was hired only six months before the event, the scramble to the finish line was a tough one.

Co-founder of Anderes Fourdy Fu Kei Cheong said that the biggest challenge was making sure the registration process was smooth and fast for delegates. In the past, delegates have had to queue for up to four hours to get their badges. In this year’s edition, Fu and his team managed to reduce the average wait time to 16 mins.

This was managed by instructing delegates to register online a week prior to the event. On the event day, this allowed them to go directly to security to attain their name and RFID card (which tracked their movements within the venue) and go through a physical screening process. This digital accreditation process helped to combat long waits.

UN-Habitat executive director Maimunah Mohd Sharif with her name card at registration.

Because of high security concerns, all delegates and speakers – regardless of seniority – had to be physically screened on-site. “Although they had already registered online, they had to actually turn up on their own. Whether they were ministers or chief delegates with bodyguards, they had to turn up to present themselves to the staff,” Fu said.

Another security consideration was controlling the flow and number of delegates in each room. Because each attendee had an RFID card, their movements were tracked and controlled to ensure the flow was managed well by security personnel. This also included X-ray machines in and around the venue to take care that banned items were not in the venue. 

“The security was pretty tight, to say the least,” said Fu. “The whole convention centre was actually fenced and there were a total of five entrances. And the perimeters were manned by US police as well as local police. And ministers with their bodyguards weren’t allowed to carry firearms.

“The number of people involved were unbelievable. It was a real eye-opener. It wasn’t just the local or overseas organising committee – there were so many stakeholders. I think this was such a major thing that Malaysia was able to showcase.”

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