In this age of active shooters and terrorism, event planners must increase their efforts to provide a safe environment for exhibitors and attendees, reduce their organization’s exposure
to liability and show due diligence in public safety programs — all while being mindful of budgetary considerations. Event public safety should be an agile, ongoing process of evaluation and implementation. While there are common practices, organizers have many options depending on their
budget flexibility, the type of event (i.e., public, corporate or industry based), the type of attendees the event attracts, the number of expected attendees, aspects of the venue and surrounding
area, and the level of safety and security the organizer wants to project. The best way to assess these options is via a “shopping list” that can be utilized in whole, or in part, to create effective combinations that
would address the event’s safety/security needs, while respecting the budget.
• Create an EAC (Exhibitor Appointed Contractor) desk with appropriate exhibitor and EAC lists, showing proof of insurance coverage to then enable the team to appropriately issue daily wristbands
• Work with the general contractor on providing stickers or wristbands to their labor
• Utilize wristbands that have the event logo or the year to restrict duplication
• Utilize the same bands to credential exhibitors before registration opens
• Create guidelines to how to issue these bands
• Change wristband colors daily
• Charge a nominal $1 fee per band, which helps ensure the companies do not give bands away to friends or coworkers just to let them on the show floor. This reduces the number of non-authorized personnel accessing the event.
• Confirm with the selected venue whether they have alreadyestablished access points
• Establish lobby and dock points for labor to access
• Utilize signage stating that it is required for all attendees, exhibitors and laborers to appropriately wear and display their credential while in the venue at all times
• Implement random bag checks at street access points
• Limit the number and size of bags that can be brought into the event, publishing announcements to that effect prior to the event
• Utilize clear or mesh bags as your tote bags giveaway
• Require attendees to bring only clear or mesh bags, of limited size, when attending the event
• Consider using metal detectors and/or wands
• Implement RFID for access control and badge verification
• Implement Prop Check Procedures utilizing police
• Create, implement and manage a queueing plan for attendees awaiting to access to the event
• Request a government ID and a second ID to qualify exhibitors and attendees when registering
• Require that each person only pick one badge
• Limit reprinting or attach a fee to reprint badges for better control
• Set group registration guidelines for badge distribution
• Establish a code of conduct that describes the expected level of courtesy and professionalism in interacting with attendees.
Most will abide by the guidelines, which reduces the chance of incidents, especially with public shows.
• Consider this disclaimer on all badges: “All badges are the property of *** event and can be revoked at any time,” or,
“This credential is a revocable license where the event has sole discretion in revocation of a person’s access to the event”
• Require attendees with VIP-level access to also wear an accompanying designated wristband in an effort to deter badge swapping or sharing
• Utilize building security to man the labor access points for better control and functionality
• Subcontract to multiple security and temp companies based
on the needs of the event, in an effort to receive the best services from each of the suppliers and avoid relying on the “bottom of the barrel” staff from any participating vendor
• Implement roving patrols inside the halls and meeting rooms, in addition to staffing the front and dock doors. The patrol personnel are most often security, or a combination of
security and law enforcement staff.
• Plan and perform line control and crowd management functions
• Utilize response teams to effectively address “on the spot” needs or challenges
• Utilize code words in radio communications to help avoid causing panic among exhibitors and attendees during crisis situations
• Work with local law enforcement, Homeland Security and other pertinent agencies during site visits for enhanced preparedness and coordination
• Create a command post that houses representatives from each department, as appropriate to the event. This allows the most efficient communications between all involved and a much better and faster response
GENERAL SESSION AND MEETING ROOMS
• Conduct complete sweeps by K9 teams in the mornings prior to the start of sessions
• Utilize meeting room monitors and ushers
• Abide by and maintain fire marshal guidelines and procedures
• Create meeting room overflow procedures LOBBY/DOCKS AND PUBLIC AREAS PATROL Implement a four-layer style program utilizing visual elements, patrols and access point controls:
• The first layer is parking a police car or cars in the front driveway/docks of the venue or in other visible locations around the venue
• The second is a combination of uniformed police and building security for visibility and deterrence from possible active shooter scenarios or other challenges
• The third is a roving patrol of K9s that can randomly inspect crates, packages, trashcans, etc.; these K9s are a combination of air-vapor K9s that can detect potential threats from the air, in addition to typical bomb-sniffing K9s
• The fourth is plain-clothes police that blend with the attendees for an overall effective program of protection
• Plus, having first responders on hand is one of the best ways to ensure immediate response in any crisis
APPS AND TECHNOLOGY
• Create a “if you see something, say something” icon on the event app that allows attendees to email or text the appropriate party
• Work with the building to address their camera systems and identify to them your key areas of concern within the event
• Utilize body cams, which are ideal for documenting any incidents or potential liability. When a security staff member wearing a body cam interacts with attendees and they are
made aware that the camera is active, they tend not to create conflicts.
• Deploy Web-based cameras for sensitive areas
• Enable push notifications to onsite attendees
• Utilize communication group apps for better info distribution between organizers and subcontractors
• Utilize two-way radios for better communication
• Create a plan that encompasses evacuation, marshalling points, power outage procedures, medical, and active shooter procedures and response plans. This plan should be compatible with the venue’s plans so that no conflict may occur.
• Designate team leaders with their responsibilities and contact information. Designate contact list priority and media spokesperson.
• Designate an offsite location with necessary communications equipment in the event that the venue is out of commission
• Work with the key exhibitors on their emergency plans that they may have internally to establish better cohesiveness
THIRD PARTY COORDINATION
Safeguarding an event can be a detailed, multifaceted and time-consuming aspect of operations. In many cases, it is best to hire a professional consulting firm to design, implement and manage the overall public safety program. Topquality management consulting firms will bring an additional
team that works on your behalf, which ultimately means better results.