Why it’s time for a new standard in security screening

Blog Post
Steve Morandi
Vice President, Product Management

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Publish date

Apr 14, 2022

In the security world, what has become common is not what is best for every situation. So many of the measures in place at venues right now exist in response to what happened years ago in different settings. 

Threats have changed, and technology has improved. There’s no reason to keep a solution in place just because it was the only option decades ago.  

The Old Standards are Outdated 

In 1972 – in response to a series of plane hijackings – the government put rules in place that all plane passengers should be screened. For those screenings, technology was used that had been developed for maximum security prisons and certain sensitive military facilities: walk-through metal detectors and x-ray machines. 

These tools, which worked well for places like prisons, have stayed the same even though situations have changed, and technologies have advanced in ways that better reflect the times we live in. Metal detectors, for example, are very good at detecting metal. But now, so many of us carry non-threatening personal items that contain metal, like cell phones, eyeglasses and umbrellas, that we’re forced to completely empty our pockets before we pass through traditional metal detectors. 

We Need to Protect Targets of Least Resistance 

Over time, the threats have shifted as well. Instead of hard targets like government buildings or forward-operating bases, terrorists have focused on soft targets like nightclubs and stadiums. In the United States, there has been a steady stream of active shooter events at these types of settings. 

The response has usually been to add more metal detectors, which, because of the bottleneck created by the slow process of emptying pockets or false alarms, tend to create other soft targets (people waiting in line) outside of a venue. 

These venues tend to be places that are not protected by government mandates in the way that airports are – places like schools, emergency rooms, performing arts centers and office buildings. For attackers, these are targets of least resistance. When plotting the kind of high probability, high consequence event that we all fear, attackers will seek out a place where they can do the most damage with the least resistance (such as having to pass through a metal detector). 

Setting the New Standard 

Current mainstream security standards don’t do enough to protect soft targets. Evolv recognizes the desperate need for standards to reflect today’s threats and exists to address the question: How do we create a seamless experience that enables security professionals to create a safe environment? To answer that question, we should consider the following: 

What are the real threats of concern? 

Security personnel are not looking for tiny pieces of metal in your pocket. They’re looking for weapons. We have technology that can identify exactly what items we should be concerned about in a security screening so that every item doesn’t trigger an alarm – only items of concern. 

What personal items do people carry most often? 

There are items that people carry in their pockets or purses every day that pose no threat, but still set off metal detectors. Evolv’s ability to identify those – phones, keys, ear buds – cuts down on false alarms and allows people to get where they need to be more quickly. 

Who’s going to be running the system? 

You need to make sure the technology is right for the security team running the system. For someone who might be monitoring the system for an eight-hour shift, it needs to be simple. Nuisance alarms – the kind of alarms that are set off by the everyday metal objects mentioned above – can become exhausting for an individual who has to screen someone for something that isn’t a real threat. That can affect the detection of actual threats. The system should be easy to use and quickly identify actual threats. 

How well does the system work with existing security measures? 

We want a seamless entry where there’s no bottleneck…but we also know that our customers need to be able to integrate our systems with existing security measures, such as surveillance cameras. This allows for quick and comprehensive threat detection and notification, enabling security personnel to take immediate action.  

We need to constantly challenge our assumptions of what real threats are, and think differently about the world we’re living in when it comes to threat assessment. We need to employ the appropriate technology to prevent the kind of high probability, high consequence events that can result at a target of least resistance. Evolv exists to help you avoid being one of those targets, and we are setting a new standard when it comes to keeping people safe. 

Steve Morandi
Vice President, Product Management