Special Events


City of Austin’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HSEM) collaborates with other departments as part of the Austin Center for Events as well as outside organizations to provide planning, staffing, and communications assistance for special events. HSEM works behind the scenes to keep Austinites and visitors to our city safe at major events like Austin City Limits Music Festival, SXSW, Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix, University of Texas football games, and more.

For multi-day major special events, HSEM coordinates staffing at the emergency operations center and on-site at event operations centers. Emergency planning staffers coordinate the Greater Austin/Travis County Regional Radio System (GATRRS) to provide highly reliable voice radio communications for public safety organizations during major events. The City of Austin is the managing partner of GATRRS, which is a partnership among COA, Travis County, The University of Texas at Austin, and Austin Independent School District.

Austin HSEM is proud to provide all these services that protect our community at events that make Austin such a lively and unique city to live, visit, and play.

Special Event Safety

Every year Austin hosts many special events. General safety information to consider when attending: 

  • attend in groups, follow the buddy system, and never going anywhere alone,
  • plan your route to and from the event and have a safe ride home,
  • have a planned rally point in case you get separated from your group,
  • be aware of your surroundings,
  • know where you are: address, cross streets, landmarks, gate/entrance number,
  • keep your cell phone charged,
  • avoid placing your phone in your back pocket,
  • keep your phone in a different location than your ID and credit cards so they are not stolen all at once,
  • keep valuables in safe locations and in different places,
  • make sure your purse or fanny pack has a zipper or lock,
  • stay hydrated and don't overconsume alcoholic beverages,
  • don't take someone else's prescription meds,
  • apply and re-apply sunscreen even on cloudy days,
  • keep lists of your emergency contacts, allergies, and medications on you in case of an emergency.

More on Knowing Where You Are

Austin/Travis County EMS first responders often utilize an app called what3words during rescues. This app has created a 3-meter grid over the entire world and assigned unique identifying 3-word names to locations on the grid. The app is used to provide more specific locations for addresses that take up a large space or for open spaces that may not have a designated address, like parks or fields. 

When attending a special event, the app could be used by EMS to more quickly locate an individual in need of medical attention if their group is able to provide their what3words location to dispatch when calling 911, especially in a large outdoor area. Your party could also use it privately among yourselves to pinpoint a meeting place or rally point.

The app what3words is available for Apple and Android devices. 

General Major Event Safety Tips

It's important to have a plan when attending a large event and be aware of any special policies or practices at the venue. Does the venue have a clear bag policy? Is there a special drop-off or pick-up area for ride share services like Uber, Lyft, or taxis? Does CapMetro have bus or train station nearby? Where are ADA entrances, exits, and parking? These are just a few things to consider before heading to your event for a good time.

Here are a few venues in Austin that may have policies to review before arriving: