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News

Planning outdoor event security

Verint Systems : 25 September, 2013  (Special Report)
Ian Graham, SVP & GM Video EMEA at Verint looks back on this year's outdoor event season and takes a look at the lessons to be learnt for securing them
Planning outdoor event security

As another summer season finishes, it is a good time to reflect on the numerous outdoor events that have taken place and consider the potential risks they can bring for security teams, who will no doubt be preparing for next year’s calendar shortly. While spectators and fans may sit back and relax, for security professionals it’s a top priority to ensure an enjoyable and safe day out for all involved. To do this, they must plan for all eventualities ranging from overcrowding and fire hazards, to the more extreme.

When considering large events, business risk should also be factored in. The Proms, Glastonbury and Wimbledon are a few examples of prominent outdoor spectacles, which annually attract huge crowds and media attention. Given they are so high-profile, security scares of any scale can be damaging and should be prevented. After all, negative press coverage can lead to a potential loss of sponsorship, affecting ticket sales and a tarnished corporate reputation. So all things considered, what can security professionals do to minimise risk factors and ensure the smooth running of each and every alfresco occasion?

Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

For businesses, it’s never too early to plan for next summer’s line up. First and foremost, a comprehensive risk assessment must be carried out, and for larger events, the use of the correct technologies is essential to allow security teams to act quickly and ensure public safety.  Security officers must work alongside event organisers to map out potential threats and organise back office and front line employees. Underpinning the success of these tools must be a fully trained and confident body of staff, working as a unit alongside the technology tools available, that can respond, quickly to threats or anomalies on the day. A centralised system across the organisation will help manage proceedings and optimise the scheduling processes, especially useful for outdoor events where lots of staff will be needed for extra demands on the control teams and surveillance officers patrolling the perimeters, for example.

When planning large events where any number of things can go wrong, the devil is in the detail, and being able to ensure comprehensive security management from obvious issues to day - to- day activities is a huge advantage. For example, security officers might use cameras and analytics to check that fire exits aren’t blocked for long periods of time during deliveries of goods and equipment to the site.

Security Infrastructure Installed

For large outdoor public events it’s likely that multiple video cameras and sensors will be needed for consistent monitoring of the area and the people in it, noting any suspicious incidents, unattended items of luggage or trespassers. With this in mind, the security teams must aim to bring these disparate systems into one centralised platform. This will make it possible to monitor the entire site from a single location, so that operators can quickly look into any unusual or potentially threatening activity and act upon it instantaneously - ultimately making operations much more streamlined and relieving some of the stresses on the actual day!

The ability to run virtual scenarios is a great practical exercise to prepare security professionals for the possibility of overcrowding and terrorism threats. Fire drills and tests can be simulated through the system on a regular basis. With a connected and synchronised dashboard in place, security teams may find features such as 3D mapping functions of significant use. This allows operators to focus on multiple locations in a geographic region simultaneously, interact with different sites through chat, and take control, alerting people if necessary. This may mean evacuating several tiers of seating or the entire area depending on the scale and location of the problem. Learning how to clear an area quickly is critical and it needs to be practiced regularly to ensure best practice is adhered to, especially useful for the smooth running of large scale events.

Crowd Management and Offenders

It naturally follows that popular outdoor events will lead to large crowds gathering in one congested area. Crowd management is a key hazard to prepare for from the very beginning! The right technology at your disposal will ensure enhanced awareness and the ability to respond quickly and accurately to overcrowding alerts, and having a flexible user interface with multiple screens would be useful for this. Security professionals should programme technology to impede criminals, with the ability to detect unusual activity or behaviour and notify the relevant operator. For instance, setting specific algorithms for CCTV cameras such as signalling an alarm if an individual is hanging around a certain area for too long or being able to analyse and identify unusual or unexpected car registration plates in car parks can all help detect threatening incidents before they even happen.

In today’s society, technology is critical to enhancing security in all walks of life, especially when co-ordinating large outdoor events with the eyes of the world upon you. Without cameras, detectors and alarms, security professionals would be unable to identify threats and respond appropriately. These alfresco events could well be a target for crime and terrorism alongside all other expected risk, and it is essential to have a complete view of the operation and the local area at all times. For security teams, enhancing situational awareness should be an ongoing priority and can frankly never be planned for enough. Whilst the threat can never absolutely be stamped out, making procedures as watertight as possible should be a key priority for security teams to protect public and business interest. As organisations gear up for 2014’s summer events, security should be high on their agenda and getting ready early and reviewing the technology available to them should happen without delay.

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