A New Approach to Venue and Trade Show Security

October 30, 2018

Anil Chitkara

Anil Chitkara is co-founder and president of Evolv Technology, a developer of physical threat detection technology that helps protect people and facilities by fusing together innovations in advanced technologies.

Attacks on soft targets such as nightclubs, shopping districts and sports stadiums have become an all-too-common occurrence around the world. The recent gaming tournament tragedy in Jacksonville, Florida has shed new light on event and trade show security, prompting facilities managers to reevaluate physical security processes, technology and implementation.

While most large venues have security procedures in place, these procedures typically encompass base-level protection through a combination of metal detectors, guards, manual bag checks and hand wands. To combat the new threat landscape, event and security executives are looking for soft target protection without losing the open and inviting feel. 

Here are five key security components for venue and trade show managers to follow when planning their next event.

FlexibilitySecurity can vary from event to event and night to night. On one day, a well-known speaker may attract a large crowd in one main arena and on another day, the same venue could have several smaller events dispersed throughout different areas of the venue. Each day, security officers need to provide the appropriate level of security and screening based on the threat assessment for that specific area, the building and the people in it. These threats are constantly changing and it’s important to work with various federal, state and local enforcement agencies, and to ensure venues adjust security plans in real time.

People and TrainingAt many trade shows and performing arts venues, guards serve as the front line of defense. Some of these guards are current or former law enforcement, however, others serve more like greeters who are less experienced security professionals. In addition, guard turnover can be high. To accommodate for varying levels of experience, venue managers should look to provide security technology that is easy and intuitive for guards and training opportunities on an ongoing basis. 

Processes and Protocols: Event managers can no longer use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to security, they need tailored systems and well-thought-out processes and protocols to ensure security layers are properly deployed throughout a venue. Managers should use security technology to complement and improve upon existing processes that are already in place. 

TechnologyWhile attackers have shifted to event venues, security screening technology has remained largely unchanged. Newer technologies, however, provide threat prevention capabilities that can significantly improve screening operations, detecting new and recent threats, and allowing visitors to easily pass through without removing phones and undergoing manual bag checks. CCTV and access control can expand the reach of guards and facial recognition technology can be employed to recognize employees or adjust screening for VIPs.

Visitor Experience: Event-goers typically wait in long lines before approaching a metal detector and then must take out all personal items before walking through. This is a timely and inefficient process that diminishes an otherwise positive visitor experience. Metal detectors also typically detect all types of metal, stopping crowds and alarming often, instead of focusing on the actual threats that matter. With new technology that leverages multi-sensor architecture and facial recognition to detect common threats in venues, customer experience no longer needs to be a secondary consideration. Event operators can now help visitors enjoy trade shows and feel safer by adopting modern security methods that protect visitors and don’t cause undue burden to them.

The threat landscape has shifted and it’s time event managers reevaluate their security plans and look at leading technologies other types of venues are deployment. By focusing on an easy-to-use system that concentrates on potential threats that matter and lets others enter unobtrusively, security teams and event managers can quickly and confidently assure a safe environment for their visitors. 


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