Event Security: Strategies, Technologies & Trends

Event organizers are responsible for setting budgets, organizing sponsors, planning accommodations, and countless other tasks. But, while security may be an afterthought for organizers, security firms recognize the importance of effective crowd control, keeping guests safe, preventing property damage, and dealing with unexpected situations.

Let’s examine the core elements of event security, how technology plays a role, and tips for hiring the right team.

5 Elements of Event Security

Event security requires a high level of upfront planning and a solid communication plan on the day of the event. While technology plays a critical role, as discussed in the next section, security teams are ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of event security – and they typically focus on five key elements.

#1. Know the Venue

The best security plan begins with an in-depth understanding of the venue. For instance, the security team should understand the location of windows, back doors, and other porous entry points. If the venue is outdoor, it helps to establish an event perimeter with temporary fencing or barricades to control the flow of people in and out.

#2. Assess the Risk

It’s impossible to background check every event attendee, but security teams should take the time to understand potential risks. For example, a controversial speaker might draw a crowd of protestors or other high-risk attendees that want to cause problems. Another tell-tale sign is guests who purchase bulk tickets looking to cause a scene.

#3. Control the Crowd

Crowd control is an essential component of a robust security plan. For example, security teams should ensure that guests are not blocking exits, monitor lines to ensure they’re orderly, and limit access to critical areas. In some cases, security teams may also be responsible for people counting to ensure that the event doesn’t exceed capacity.

#4. Prevent Large Attacks

Large crowds are an easy and soft target for large-scale attacks. As a result, armed security guards are often essential to mitigate these risks. Security personnel should also check bags and look out for suspicious behaviors, such as constantly staring at staff, surveilling the venue layout, or feigned interest in the event activities.

#5. Maintain Communication

Event security personnel should have a direct line of communication with organizers. For instance, organizers may want to report suspicious activity or potential problems to security teams. In these instances, it’s helpful to have walkie-talkies and a diagram of the event venue to ensure everyone is on the same page and can respond quickly.

Next-Gen Security Technologies

Security teams rely heavily on technology to help control crowds, identify threats, and respond to any issues. For instance, tickets may include RFID technologies to prevent counterfeits, and body scanners may help the presence of illicit substances or weapons. And fortunately, these technologies are constantly evolving to improve over time.

The most common event security technologies today include:

  • Crowd management software. Crowd management technologies help direct crowds to the correct places. For instance, RFID tags or QR code scanners can help at the point of entry, and facial recognition software can help detect bad actors.
  • Venue monitoring solutions. Large events are challenging for any individual security guard to manage. Fortunately, wireless cameras, alarms, and motion-activated security technologies can provide eyes and ears in critical areas.
  • Emergency response. GoToAID, iTriage, FEMA, and other emergency communication apps make it easy to get help quickly while providing need-to-know information on the spot.

New technologies are also on the horizon that could dramatically improve event security by providing “passive monitoring” of crowds.

Bag Searches

Bag requirements and searches are standard at many special events. For instance, the National Football League implemented a clear bag policy in 2013 that has become the status quo elsewhere. Meanwhile, metal detectors and body scanners have become standard for many indoor and outdoor events to deter malicious actors and ensure safety.

But, in the future, bag searches may become unnecessary. GBT Technologies’ Apollo technology combines radio waves with artificial intelligence to detect the presence of weapons or other contraband through walls and clothing without using a metal detector. And, it can be continuous throughout an event – not just at the point of entry.

Counting People

People counting is critical to running any event to ensure that crowds meet building safety standards. Unfortunately, many events still use manual clickers to count people and aggregate them after the fact. While RFID tags can help automate some of the work, they are expensive to implement and only cover a limited area.

GBT Technologies’ Apollo technology uses the same combination of radio waves and artificial intelligence to efficiently determine how many individuals are present in a particular area without any manual counting or reliance on expensive RFID tags. And again, the counting can be continuous and ongoing throughout the event.

Tips for Hiring Event Security

Small events may only require a few security guards to handle entry and address any problems. However, large events typically require a security team that handles everything from VIP bodyguards to video surveillance. There are several key factors to consider when looking for the best security team – and we’ll take a look at a handful of them.

Some best practices to keep in mind include:

  • Hire licensed guards. Professional security guards should be licensed with a proven track record. In most cases, they will have prior military or law enforcement experience.
  • Seek relevant experience. Choose a security team that’s experienced with the target event type. For instance, school security may not be best for a business convention.
  • Consider full-service teams. Many events require more than a few security guards, so it’s usually best to work with one company that can handle everything from bodyguards to video surveillance.
  • Focus on communication. The best security teams excel at communication with event organizers. Focus on teams that keep you in the loop and engaged with what’s happening on the ground.

The Bottom Line

Event organizers have many responsibilities, and security isn’t always top of the list. Fortunately, most security companies are adept at providing a high level of services through targeted strategies and cutting-edge technologies. There are also a handful of security strategies that they can keep in mind to work together to ensure a smooth event.

GBT Technologies specializes in developing intellectual property that security technology manufacturers can use to build next-gen products. If you’re interested in licensing these technologies, contact us to learn more and discuss how we can work together to improve event security.

Mansour Khatib

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