Entertainment venues: How tighter security helps us let loose
Manchester, Paris, Orlando, Barcelona, and now Las Vegas – just a few of the cities where a night of fun became a nightmare. In recent years, it’s become more common for entertainment venues, from large arenas to smaller stages to dance clubs to movie theaters to pedestrian promenades, to become targets. This is our new normal.
These tragic events, though, are also an opportunity to learn. A variety of issues make securing stadiums and smaller venues especially challenging. With hindsight and new solutions, it’s possible to take steps to make future events more secure.
The security challenge for entertainment venues
If anyone has attended a concert or sporting event in a large arena, there’s an expectation that there will be metal detectors and bag checks, if bags are even allowed. Although most attendees find it routine, the pace of the process has to find a balance between crowd control, security, and inconvenience.
It’s that last item that’s often a stumbling block on how entertainment venues should proceed during a time when they seem to be in the crosshairs of the big four:
- Active shooter
- Vehicle driving through a crowd
- Explosive device
- Armed drone
While the top priority is to keep people safe, there’s another one jockeying for first place – to not create delays for attendees to have their fun.
Securing a large venue
What makes security a tough issue for larger spaces is the number of people who enter at all times during the day and the number of entry and exit points. Prior to a concert, for example, there are equipment deliveries, roadies setting up the stage, sound checks, maybe a quick run-through with the headlining act, press, etc. That’s a lot of people before the throngs even arrive.
Then comes the show, with audience members buying concessions, looking for bathrooms, and wandering around to find a way backstage. Finally, there is the exit. After the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, security experts observed that exiting – a chaotic moment when everyone leaves at once – is an opportunity for terror.
Smaller venues have smaller budgets
While there are many ideas on how to improve security for stadiums and arenas, smaller venues like dance clubs, small stages, bars, and movie theaters face a specific challenge. Because of their smaller size, they often have small budgets, and so they are unable to afford all of the bells and whistles. In many ways, this makes them an easy target, as was seen in Bataclan concert hall shooting in Paris and the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
While metal detecting wands are a relatively inexpensive investment, hiring trained personnel to use that equipment can strain budgets. Nevertheless, there are policies and procedures and equipment that both large and small venues should consider when securing their premises.
Key security suggestions
- Many venues are implementing clear bag policies to make searches quicker and more efficient.
- Implement turnstiles with an electronic ticketing solution to get an accurate count of exactly who is on premises.
- Electronic access control will restrict certain areas of the venue to authorized personnel based on clearance level, using photo ID badges for event staff, visiting performers, and their road crews and support staff.
- Examine weak areas – such as parking areas – in the perimeter and, if possible, extend the perimeter and beef up security measures there. These are prime locations for cameras running 24 hours. Regular video monitoring can also reveal if anyone is studying the space for a future attack, and advanced video analytics may be able to spot a developing threat.
- Some agencies are using dogs trained to sniff vapor trails from explosive devices.
- Security measures will be different for each venue. Take time to observe the flow of people in and out.
- Work with local law enforcement and inform them of any upcoming events.
Combining peace of mind with fun
POM Technologies specializes in providing situation- and site-specific security solutions to entertainment, concert, and sports venues in and around New York and New Jersey. Through the use of integrated security technologies, including streamlined visitor management, electronic ticketing, and site-wide communication and monitoring, our goal is control and visibility.
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