From a security perspective, the recent Super Bowl at the new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles was uneventful. At least that’s what the average spectator watching the game and the millions of people around the world who watch it on television and a myriad of streaming media have observed. However, for security professionals and solution providers who partner with major sporting and entertainment events like the Super Bowl, there is nothing easy about preparing their game strategies.
As sports venues transform into $5 billion palaces like SoFi and other new professional and college sports venues, stadiums and arenas are now entertainment venues designed to provide fans with technologically advanced experiences. In a game like last month’s Super Bowl where fans shelled out thousands of dollars for the privilege of seeing a championship game and halftime extravaganza, expectations of a safe and secure environment are assumed. It is not always easy to answer these hypotheses.
New challenges can be a sports venue security nightmare
“It’s a security nightmare. And it’s a security nightmare for several reasons. Customer expectations are very different from what they might have been when the first Super Bowl kicked off 50 years ago. Society has changed dramatically. Our expectations have not only changed given the social unrest, mass weapons and (COVID), but all the ills of society (could be exposed) with all these hundreds of thousands, millions of people who are going to descend on Los Angeles. They represent a cross-section of the demographics of the entire society. If they’re fighting masks (or other issues), you’re going to see a magnification of that in a closed, tight environment,” says Peter Evans, CEO of Patriot One Technologies, a company that makes low-profile, low-profile products. on AI. weapons and threat detection systems for stadiums, arenas, casinos, schools, theaters and other businesses.
“The probability of risk is much higher. The challenge I have when I think about these types of environments is that society has changed in 40 years. Yet the technologies that we use to solve these problems, the approaches, have not. It’s still a labor-based business model that doesn’t scale. Think of all the other workforce-based business models that have been changed (by) digital transformation over the last 10, 15 years; e-commerce and the way you buy products online on Amazon versus driving in your car and the non-scalability of that,” adds Evans. “As an example, the widespread tool that is used to screen customers entering a venue is a product that has been around for 40 years. It was built at a time when society was different. When most of us walked around with a leather wallet with dollar bills in our pocket. Now we walk around with smartphones, headphones, all that high tech on us. However, we are still trying to solve a modern day problem with a product that was designed for a different time and a different society.
In a recent interview with SecurityInfoWatch.com, Jeff Steel, athletic director of facilities operations at Auburn University, said the role of security has changed dramatically. “I think that’s changed significantly in that we think a lot more outside the box than we used to. Over the last 20 or 30 years we haven’t given much thought to the medical aspect of it and to the possibility of a pandemic. It felt so out of place for our safety and security thinking processes. We’ve also been forced to re-evaluate everything we do and re-examine why we do it, how we do it and to make significant changes to the way we do it based on the pandemic threat Take something as simple as loading (supplies) into the vendor facility for a football game or game basketball; what was our timeline on that and how did we secure that load? We had to change that approach significantly, especially at the start of the pandemic,” he said.
As public health and safety necessities collide with even greater speed at sporting and entertainment events, a more intense technological approach is being taken in many venues to help expedite customer screening while maintaining the customer safety and security.
Technology is stepping up its game
A recent article in Athletic Business Magazine, states that an increased focus on fan screening demonstrates a new business methodology. “Through screening, organizations aim to prevent illegal, prohibited and suspicious items from entering the site and posing a threat to the facility and its occupants. A wide range of metal detectors, X-ray machines and trained staff are employed to create the safest experience possible.While the goal remains the same, emerging technologies offer the promise of achieving these goals with fewer resources, freeing up staff to focus their efforts in other areas and reducing the number of detection points needed to bring people safely to the site.
According to Evans, it’s this fine line of finding the right balance between technology and the security worker that defines how strategic security solutions are formulated. Like all good technology, he admits it’s only as good as the humans who operate and monitor it.
“It’s a challenge because when you look at the staff at a lot of these sites, it’s very transient staff. There’s about 30% turnover on most of these teams, so there’s no consistency in performance, no consistency in staffing,” says Evans. “Technology can’t do much. There is a human in the loop and while technology can do things to minimize the amount of human activity and engagement, there will be a human as the final decision maker. So, people, processes and technology must be designed correctly. »
“If you look at current technologies in walk-through metal detectors, they beep on the metal, very simple, very binary, not a lot of information. However, there are sensor technologies that, combined together, can tell you things about the reflective property and types of metals (of objects). With AI, you can start correlating that and start calculating probabilities. Chances are it’s a knife, not an iPhone. Now you can begin to discern between factors like this is an individual who has a weapon, or it is an individual who does not have a weapon. Now you let those who don’t have a gun come in and have a great experience. The (process) helps ease the lines, ease the pressure, ease the fan’s frustration and allow them to have a better fan experience,” says Evans.
“AI combined with these sensor technologies can give you more digital information about what’s really going on. Now you can start going deeper and using AI to collect more data long before the person does. arrives on the scene. Let’s say you’re online and buying a ticket. Are you really that person or do we have identity theft? Does this fan have a valid credit card? Do they have Ever been banned from the stadium?” continues Evans. “We can start the customer experience and safety background long before you actually walk into the venue. I can collect information and do it in a positive way. This fan has been here five times. He’s still sitting at level 100. Let’s message him and send him to the VIP entrance and thank him for his sponsorship.
The advanced capabilities of AI-based technologies enable innovative solutions that are used in today’s stadiums and arenas to transcend traditional analog detectors. These proactive features provide more actionable insights and layered approaches to security. As Evans points out, this steals a page from what cybersecurity has been doing for many years.
“If you think about cybersecurity and how we protected our corporate networks by building a firewall, it was like a moat around a castle. Either you go in or you go out through the drawbridge With cybersecurity, they use all kinds of analytics to create layered security approaches – multiple layers and concentric rings of security. That’s the concept here. By stealing a page from this (approach) and using those same digital information, we can go beyond just the moat called the walk-through metal detector around the building,” Evans concludes.
About the Author: Steve Lasky is a 34-year security industry veteran and award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes Security Technology Executive, Security Business and International Ledger Locksmith and the premier web portal SecurityInfoWatch.com. Steve can be contacted at [email protected]