3 Minute Read
Publish dateNov 8, 2021
During the COVID-19 pandemic, mass shootings in the United States increased. In fact, shootings doubled in July 2020. And for the entire 2020, gun violence and gun crime led to the highest death toll in over 20 years with more than 19,000 people killed, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
As COVID-19 slowly moves into an endemic state and we get more comfortable going out, we’re also more acutely aware of the potential for an active shooter to be present. Before the start of an event or performance, our ability to spot the venue’s exit signs has become second nature.
Meanwhile, in the event community, the downtime during the pandemic prompted many theater owners to reconsider how they would manage the safety screening process when patrons returned. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is among them. A nonprofit arts organization, the Trust promotes economic and cultural development in downtown Pittsburgh.
When its event venues were closed due to the pandemic, the security team at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust used the time to assess the screening process throughout its various properties, which span the city’s 14-block entertainment district. Prior to COVID-19, they welcomed more than two million people at over 1500 events annually.
The security team decided it was time to address their time-consuming, labor-intensive screening process that consisted of magnetometers and wands. Specifically, while long queues and tables for checking bags reflect today’s safety protocols for entering public places, they interrupt the magical experience of going to the theater. Not to mention the impact the entire safety screening process has on staff, requiring them to spend more time on alert and less time greeting patrons. (The delays can also affect profit from the theater’s concession stands.)
Based on their analysis, the security staff at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust realized that its processes were not designed for the future safety and comfort of guests. That future is one that requires advanced weapons detection and screenings – without compromising the patron experience. Further, they realized that safety screenings are not just about the process of screening patrons. When you add data and artificial intelligence to the process, you get a more comprehensive security picture for an entire venue. For example, integrating data from foot traffic and scans can provide insights that inform threat category analysis, alarm statistics, and visitor arrival curves. This data helps security better manage and mitigate all potential threats before patrons arrive.
After evaluating Evolv technology, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust selected the Evolv Express Single-lane and Dual-lane Systems, along with Evolv Cortex AI and Evolv Insights for both employee and guest screening. Now, entering one of their theaters is fast, easy and safe. Guests move quickly through the kiosks (no more waiting outside in the rain!), while staff spend more time moving the flow of foot traffic, creating great customer experiences, and taking care of other non-security related tasks. In the future, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will integrate the Evolv Express systems into its security operations center for a comprehensive view into physical and cyber security threats.
Pittsburgh theater goers now have even greater confidence in the safety measures that have been put in place as they return to the venues.
To learn more about The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s strategy behind the reopening of its theaters, read the full case study.