(Re)open for Business: The Steps Venues are Taking to Ensure Visitor Safety and a Positive Experience
Spring has now officially sprung and, along with the annual emergence from winter hibernation, comes a cautious sense of hope. The world is starting to wake up from our year-long battle and make plans again. There’s a sense that it’s time to have fun and escape reality for a little while. But along with this sense of hope and a readiness to have some fun comes new and heightened visitor expectations, and safety and security awareness.
Until now, security professionals have had to make a tradeoff between visitor security and visitor experience – what we refer to as the “protection paradox.” Achieving this balance is the crux of Evolv Technology’s mission: return confidence and peace of mind to people visiting public spaces by changing the paradigm of how security professionals can assure venues are safe from the most serious threats without compromising visitor experience.
IAAPA’s March Funworld article, Screening Entry Screenings, outlines how forward-thinking entertainment venues such as Hersheypark and the Georgia Aquarium embrace this vision by implementing Evolv’s AI-enabled touchless security screening systems. With Evolv’s technology, these venues are able to deliver improved security with minimal disruption to the visitor experience because our sensors and algorithms are smart enough to listen to their environments and continuously adapt.
Each venue is unique, they come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and infrastructures; security technology needs to be flexible in order to work in all of these environments, without exception. According to our founder Anil Chitkara, Evolv’s advanced sensors and machine learning algorithm enable our systems to distinguish between threats, such as firearms and explosive devices, from everyday personal items, like keys and phones. Because of this, Evolv Express® is able to screen up to 3,600 people per hour, 10 times faster than legacy metal detectors.
This means visitors can walk through the detection systems at a normal pace and in groups. They don’t have to empty their pockets. They don’t have to surrender their bags. When the system detects something concerning, it alerts staff with a picture of the guest and the location of where to conduct a secondary search. With this image-aided alarm resolution, guards are able to take swift action and have less concern about missing a potential weapon. The results are significantly fewer false positives, which creates less stress, and dramatically reduces physical interaction between guards and visitors, alleviates long lines and enables critical social distancing at venue entry points.
Without saying it, people are saying, “don’t touch me!” This is the age of the touchless customer experience, where security priorities have shifted toward safety AND health. Touchless technology certainly isn’t new. What’s new is the subtle shift from this technology being what consumers want, to what consumers need.
In a recently conducted Harris Poll survey, 95% of individuals who had attended a ticketed venue stated they felt it’s somewhat to very important to pass through metal detectors. However, 68% of survey respondents felt metal detectors required their belongings to be touched by a security guard, 65% felt metal detectors created crowds that violated social distancing guidelines, nearly half (49%) were not willing to accept security screening that forced families to be separated during security and 44% were not willing to accept being searched by physical pat down during security screening.
As people return to recently opened venues, they will evaluate their arrival experience along a continuum of touch – high, moderate or none. Venues with invasive security and hands-on inspections tell visitors that they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Modern entrances, with a smooth, touchless flow of screened visitors is what the customer wants.
The desire to minimize physical contact is driving demand for touchless interaction. By employing technology like Evolv’s AI-based touchless security screening systems, venues like Hersheypark, Six Flags Theme Parks and Georgia Aquarium create family-friendly environments where visitors feel safe, aware they are being protected but not intrusively reminded of it.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Evolv Technology from September 18 – October 3, 2020 among adults ages 18 and older who attended an event at a ticketed venue in 2019 (n=506). Results are weighted to be representative of population under study based on US census population targets on education, age-gender, race/ethnicity, region, and income.