Indoor GPS in use on a mobile phone

Venue & Event Trends in Safety & Security

By Bojura Angelova

This is the second installment of our emergency preparedness series for the Trade Show News Network (TSNN). Today we explore some of the latest venue and event security trends to help make your event safer.

Sporting events are no longer the most preferred target for terrorists. According to the Department of Homeland Security, outdoor and political events, conferences, festivals, and other events featuring public figures are all considered at risk. And with over a thousand different-level attacks in 2017 alone, it’s no surprise that safety and security are among the top concerns for event professionals.

Signature Boston’s Public Safety Team is actively preparing for the unexpected and developing strong working relationships with first responders. The team is a partner in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Large Venue Security Initiative, which includes venues like Gillette Stadium, TD Garden, and Fenway Park; plus FBI representatives in Boston, the Massachusetts State Police, the Boston Police Department, and more. Once every quarter the group meets to review the trends and security issues that the event industry is facing.

Venue Trends

Most event venues are inviting and collaborative spaces, featuring a lot of glass and various pick-up and drop-off locations. All of these elements are now being reexamined, and venues are moving towards reinforcing and hardening.

More focus is being placed on traffic patterns, parking, and loading operations. On the technology side, video surveillance and analytics, access control, and alert notifications are becoming a standard practice, especially for larger events.

In terms of crowd flow, venues are starting to explore ways to build a pedestrian flow into the building that goes through a traffic path, but brings people through a level of security screening even when they don’t know it’s happening.

Event Trends

Safety & Security Training

As event professionals, we need to be extremely vigilant when we gather people, but in many instances our job is namely to observe and report. This is where safety and security training, like the Suspicious Indicator Recognition & Assessment (SIRA) system, comes into play. SIRA incorporates a number of highly effective threat detection and mitigation protocols, allowing both trained security and law enforcement professionals, along with venue employees, to identify high-risk individuals before an incident actually occurs. Having a trained staff extends your surveillance efforts to those at the ground level who are directly interacting with attendees. At the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and the Hynes Convention Center, all staff is required to attend a SIRA training session at least once a year.

Safety & Security Planning

In Boston, we have seen the real-life impact of attacks on mass gatherings firsthand. We know that the importance of safety and security planning has grown exponentially not only for meeting planners, but for attendees as well. And when it comes to safety & security planning, it’s helpful to put your emphasis on event assessments and layered security.

At our convention centers, we use a tier-based system to conduct event assessments and give the appropriate threat level to each event at our facilities. We rate events from one to three for their level of risk. For example, a smaller event with a low risk can be a Level One; while an event with 40,000 attendees, extensive content, and public figures present might be categorized as a Level Three. Based on this assessment, our Public Safety Team develops a strategy tailored to the specifics of each event.

Layered security utilizes different screening techniques and tactics to create layers of security, not only as attendees enter your event, but also within your event. For example, a keynote speech by a high-ranking government official or high-profile celebrity may require an additional layer of security inside of your event for admittance. Those layers of security might be clearly visible–such as metal detectors, uniformed officers and bomb-sniffing canines–or behind the scenes–such as undercover officers and camera surveillance.
As violent incidents become more and more common, it is easy to start thinking about them as something inevitable. However, there are many powerful tactics and techniques designed to help us mitigate our collective risk. The key is to stay informed and work with your venue partners to bring the appropriate level of protection to your events.


Stay tuned for the next two parts of our emergency preparedness series, which will shed more light on the topics of layered security and suspicious behavior recognition.

The Plan Your Event section of our website includes information on all of the services available at our facilities. Whether you are in the process of evaluating Boston or planning your upcoming Boston event, our Signature Boston Team can walk you through all of your building services options, including public safety.