Why? Events have many moving pieces, any one of which could be vulnerable to a security threat at any time. Finding these threats in advance goes a long way toward keeping people safe and out of harm’s way.  

Planning also helps security guards operationalize safety standards so they can act quickly if something does happen. A proactive approach to physical security assessment in event management ensures a comprehensive emergency response to help those who need it most.

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Reimagining Event Security

Taking a proactive approach means thinking through all potential scenarios. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘proper prevention prevents poor performance.’ In essence, security guards are most effective when they are aware of event-specific security threats and vulnerabilities and can take steps to promote physical risk management.

That’s where a physical security assessment comes in. This pre-event physical threat assessment is a comprehensive physical security audit that ensures nothing is overlooked. A well-executed physical security assessment focuses on facilities, personnel, and assets to help ensure attendee safety and a positive experience. 

Preparing for the Physical Security Assessment

When it comes to deciding how to do a physical security assessment, shortcuts are the enemy. Though you can streamline efforts, each assessment requires time and attention. To maximize the impact of a physical security assessment, it’s best to take a mindful approach. Consider the following tips: 

  1. Define your goals and scope. What will the physical security assessment include, and what information are you looking to glean from it? 
  2. Assemble a team. Be sure to include event organizers, security personnel, and anyone else involved in emergency preparedness. 
  3. Prepare the paperwork. Gather event plans, layouts, security protocols, and other relevant documentation. 
  4. Coordinate with stakeholders. Plan to find a mutually convenient time to schedule and conduct the physical security assessment. 

Understanding the Physical Security Assessment Process

Not sure how to do a physical security assessment? An effective physical security assessment includes the following core steps: 

  1. Identify potential security threats. For example, during the event, how likely is it that theft or physical attacks might occur? What about vandalism? Breaches of sensitive data? How likely is it that these threats will turn into hazardous situations? And what is the potential impact on attendees, the venue, and assets? A physical threat assessment will help you answer these important questions. 
  2. Review access control for physical building security. Where are the points of entry, and what technology and other measures do you need in place to prevent unauthorized access? 
  3. Identify ways to mitigate risk. If you can’t eliminate the risk entirely, how can you reduce the likelihood it will occur? For example, what strategies are in place for crowd control? How will you keep exits clear and keep track of capacity? Will you check the bags of all guests? Watch for suspicious behavior? What about perimeter surveillance? Cybersecurity measures? 
  4. Discuss methods for surveillance and intrusion detection. If a security breach occurs, how will you know? For example, will you use physical security assessment software? 
  5. Survey, address environmental components. For example, ensure well-lit, well-maintained grounds to deter criminals and promote maximum visibility. 
  6. Check emergency response systems. Install backup power sources, create customized lockdown plans, and test all alarms. 

When thinking about how to conduct a physical security assessment, it’s important to take a systematic approach with incredible attention to detail. Overlooking a single vulnerability could mean the difference between life and death in some cases.

It’s also important for the physical security assessment team to have open lines of communication with event organizers who are often familiar with the facility and potential security threats. Once the physical security audit is complete, event organizers should view the results to ensure everyone is on the same page and can work together to promote safety. The more eyes and ears on the lookout for threats and vulnerabilities, the better. 

Developing an Event-Specific Physical Security Checklist

A safety audit checklist helps increase the effectiveness of a physical security assessment because it helps the assessment team take a focused approach. Armed with a safety audit checklist, they don’t waste time on unnecessary steps and can instead devote their attention to the most significant threats and vulnerabilities.  

However, when it comes to developing the checklist, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. Each physical security checklist must be tailored to the type of event and venue in which that event is taking place because each event and venue is different.  

Wondering what to include in a safety audit checklist? Here are some items to consider: 

  • Attendee profile 
  • Cybersecurity measures 
  • Emergency contacts (including local law enforcement) 
  • Emergency preparedness plans 
  • Evacuation plans 
  • Existing liability insurance policies 
  • Facility operating procedures 
  • Fire systems 
  • Personnel background checks 
  • Points of entry and exit 
  • Public information specialist 
  • Security checkpoints 
  • Security plans for previous events 
  • Surveillance and intrusion detection 
  • Surveillance systems 
  • Venue capacity 

Conducting the Physical Security Assessment

Once you have the safety audit checklist in hand, conducting the physical security assessment is the next step. Consider the following:

  1. Start with a briefing. Initiate the physical security assessment with a briefing and introduction. 
  2. Perform a walk-through. Walk through the event site, taking various security aspects into consideration. 
  3. Evaluate existing security measures. Evaluate existing security measures, safety standards, emergency exits, crowd flow, and more. 
  4. Utilize tools and software. Utilize event-specific tools like surveillance cameras, metal detectors, guard tracking software, and more. 

Identifying Event-Specific Security Challenges

Each event brings with it a whole host of unique security challenges. For example, a political rally may have an inherent risk of active shooters while an unruly crowd could become problematic at a music concert. An outdoor sporting event might be subject to severe weather while an indoor school event could lead to a bomb threat. Other safety risks at large events include unauthorized access to sensitive areas, equipment failure, natural disasters, terrorism, medical emergencies, and so much more. 

It’s important to understand each event’s dynamics and any associated potential threats. Assuming all events include the same types of risks means many security challenges may go unaddressed. During a physical security risk assessment, the assessment team must think through all scenarios, risks, and vulnerabilities to promote safety standards and ensure proper emergency response. 

Developing Actionable Physical Security Recommendations

Once the physical security risk assessment is complete, the final step is to translate assessment findings into actionable recommendations. What must event organizers do in the short term to promote safety? And what can they do in the long-term to mitigate risk? For example, is it advantageous to invest in physical security assessment software? Is additional employee training warranted? Policy revisions? The need to manage security officers and physical security teams with security workforce software?  

Ultimately, the physical security risk assessment is only as good as the steps you take to effect change. In addition, everyone—including event organizers, security teams, and relevant stakeholders—must be privy to assessment findings. Every individual plays a role in the overall security of an event and can provide valuable input on how to improve processes.  

Creating a Culture of Security

Although no one can predict exactly what security risks will trigger during an event, the good news is that you can take proactive steps to prepare for the unknown. A proactive approach helps promote a culture of security in which realistic threats are met with physical security measures at every step of the way.  

Physical security assessments play an important role in successful event security because they bring all threats and vulnerabilities to the forefront and enable confident and trained individuals who can act on threats of all kinds. Want to learn more about best practices for successful physical risk management?

Watch our webinar on-demand

Reimagining Event Security

Watch our webinar on-demand, titled Reimagining Event Security, where you’ll learn about:  

  • Event security operations’ evolution in the wake of the pandemic.  
  • What security firms need to know to ensure the safety and success of future events. 
  • Event security management best practices and strategies to deploy in various settings. 
  • The next-gen security technology that will strengthen event security and address privacy concerns.