On 22 May 2017 a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device, packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel, in the foyer area of the Manchester Arena. The Manchester Arena bombing was an Islamist terror attack in Manchester, United Kingdom as people were leaving Manchester Arena following a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande. The explosion took place outside of the Arena ticketing perimeter, in the area between the venue and adjacent Victoria station. Twenty-three people were killed, including the attacker, and over 800 were injured including psychological damage.
A major report into the Manchester terror attack has ruled “strategic oversights” and poor communications lead to confusion among emergency services and meant fire crews did not arrive for more than two hours. The 226-page report, by Lord Bob Kerslake, said “strategic oversights” by police commanders led to confusion over whether an “active shooter” was on the loose. And poor communications between Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) meant fire crews only arrived two hours and six minutes after the bombing.
A series of attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, killed 130 victims and injured hundreds of others. A suicide bombing at the Stade de France stadium was followed by more explosions and shootings at popular bars and restaurants. Three gunmen opened fire at the Bataclan venue and killed concert goers who were watching a band perform.
“Our most celebrated and high-profile events, like the Super Bowl and the State of the Union Address, make ideal targets for terrorists and other criminals,” says US DHS. Stadiums, Arenas and Concert Venues are categorized as “soft targets”, these environments are top of mind for ongoing security risk evaluation and continuous improvement to security systems and processes. Large volumes of people gathering in places designed for entertainment rather than security presents challenges for today’s security leaders. Lone wolf, domestic and international terrorist threats remain a constant challenge for security professionals entrusted with protecting the space.
Event Security measures
From red carpet affairs to county fairs, trade shows to fashion shows, having the proper security measures in place can ease the minds of attendees, exhibitors, speakers and celebrity guests, and even reduce insurance costs.
Assess Your Event
Before requesting the number of event security guards you think you need, let the security expert assess your event based on capacity, attendees, venue and nature of your event to determine whether it is “high” or “low” profile experience.
All decisions about event security need to begin with a thorough risk assessment. “Tragically, the global security climate is changing considerably. Event organizers have a ‘duty of care’ to their customers and should review security plans. Event organizers and Venue owners should consider their exposure to risk through a comprehensive evaluation of threats and vulnerabilities, ” said Peter Murphy, Director, Priavo Security Ltd.
Event Planners need to be keenly aware of the numerous threats, challenges and vulnerabilities facing their event space. Situational awareness, threat and behavioral analysis of potentially suspicious individuals need to be continuous. Special attention must be given to: exterior perimeters, entertainment zones, ingress/egress points – chokepoints and bottlenecks leading into mass transportation hubs, i.e. taxi cabs, buses, subway platforms.
When a risk assessment identifies the need for heightened vigilance, technology can play a vital role in ensuring the safety of participants and security of venues, and soft targets.
Similarly, event and meeting planners should also brief participants about the location of fire exits and emergency procedures in the event of fire or the need for quick evacuation. Stadiums already use videos and simulation software for participant briefings.
Event Security Technologies
Security is continuously heightened to stay a step ahead of evildoers while ensuring there is no disruption to the main events. It is important in this industry that security solutions are non-obtrusive yet extremely effective in their objective to protect people and assets.
Event app can be designed to make security information available to all attendees, include emergency procedures, information about safety and security directly in the event app. e.g. fire exit locations, first aid stations, contact information for police, ambulances, fire departments and other first responders. It is extremely important to ensure the security of confidential and proprietary information through event apps including participant lists, and personal data about attendees.
The event, meeting and hospitality industries needs to become adept at preparing event staff and participants to handle emergencies, especially for festivals, large conferences, and trade shows. The venue staff should be properly trained on emergency procedures for event just like the flight crews receive extensive training such as practice drills to handle emergencies. For training event personnel, simulation software like SportEvac by INCONTROL can be helpful. Simulations can incorporate scenarios like evacuations, fires, bomb threats, and more. They can be made accessible through apps
Control and secure access points.
Passengers, airport staff, and crew all pass through security checkpoints. Stadiums and other large venues use bag searches and canine units to secure entrances. Handheld and walkthrough metal detectors can screen people as they enter for concerts and sporting events.
Screen Guests and Staff
Make sure all guests are properly screened and checked in with proper credentials. “Are you trying to prevent party crashers from sneaking in and having a few shrimp or bashing for a free beer, or are you trying to prevent a more serious disruption?” says Stone. The event security staff will familiarize themselves with the guest list and turn away those who have not been formally invited.
Have Medical Support
For large capacity events always have an emergency medical crew onsite for first response and to handle the unexpected food allergy, medical condition, heart attack or slip and fall head injury.
Monitor the Location.
Especially for large events, it is important to monitor what is taking place and deal with any threats on a timely basis.
Security Cameras: Security personnel can now monitor security camera footage, even from remote locations, from laptops, iPads and other mobile devices. Some are now equipped with facial recognition technology that can trigger remote silent alarms.
Metrasens Security Tools Detect Mass Casualty Weapons Before They Reach Venues
Technology company Metrasens has introduced tools like Metrasens’ Proscreen 900 that is easy to set up, less conspicuous than typical metal detectors, and effectively scan for mass casualty threats without patrons even having to slow down.
The Proscreen tools use ferromagnetic detection which only detects metals that are magnetic such as steel and iron, unlike standard detectors that indiscriminately screen for all metals. Ferromagnetic technology will easily detect long barrel rifles, pressure cooker or pipe bombs, and other weapons most commonly used to attack large quantities of people.
“Ferromagnetic detectors like ours only detect metals that you know are bad and ignores everything else. It makes it much easier for the screening operator to make a good decision as to whether an alarm is actually a threat,” said Viscardi. “Because Proscreen 900 ignores the metals you don’t care about like belt buckles or coins, the number of nuisance alarms drops dramatically. Alarm fatigue doesn’t happen with a product like ours because the unit is so specific.”
The discreet detection systems are unobtrusive poles that wiegh approximately 20lbs and can be erected with a base or nailed to the wall. The Proscreen is weatherproof and screens through clothing, walls, and even around corners without drawing the attention of patrons.
With a 16-hour battery life, the detectors can be deployed anywhere around the perimeter without needing to be attached to a power source. The unit can be maned by a limited number of security officers and with a walkthrough rate of 50-60 people per minute, the device can screen up to 3,600 patrons per hour.
While the tools are highly effective for preventing mass casualty attacks, Metrasens does not recommend that they be the only security tools in place. Depending on the venue’s needs, organizers may want to screen for other items they’d like to prohibit from the event.
“We endorse a layered security approach,” Viscardi said. “A layered security approach is the right way to implement any kind of screening system and we play a part of that. We provide a layer that no one else is able to provide.”