Digital Threshold News: Episode 3 – The Harris Poll: New Visitor Expectations for Security Screening

The pandemic has shifted consumer, employee and visitor expectations across a wide swath of our society. The ways we work, interact, shop, travel and more have all experienced fundamental shifts, and it remains to be seen how permanent some or all of those evolutions may be as the global reopening continues.

However, on the third episode of Digital Threshold Live, host Anil Chitkara, Evolv Technology Co-founder and Head of Corporate Development, was joined by Erica Parker, Managing Director, Harris Insights & Analytics LLC (The Harris Poll) to discuss a particular aspect of changing visitor attitudes and expectations – those surrounding security screening.

Parker and Harris Insights recently published a report titled “Consumer Sentiment – Advancements in Security Screening,” which aimed to capture new visitor expectations regarding touchless physical security practices and guest experiences.


The findings will play a key role in helping organizations reopen and operate safely by providing an avenue toward greater understanding of visitor attitudes and desires and toward earning trust and confidence among members of the community.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of interaction of different crises over this six-month time period, and it’s important to think about that holistic environment that we’re operating in right now,” Parker said.

Episode 3 Highlights and Key Stats from The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll survey was conducted among more than 1,500 American adults with a personal stake in the security screening experience, including consumers who attended ticketed events in 2019, parents of school-age children, and workers at large factories, warehouses and distribution centers.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Evolv Technology, and this population represents approximately 60% of the U.S. general population. Results are weighted to be representative of population under the study based on U.S. census population targets on education, age-gender, race and ethnicity, region, and income.

Key Findings:

  • Americans rate COVID-19 and the overall pandemic response as a top issue facing the country (83% say they are very or somewhat concerned).
  • This did not, however, diminish their concerns about social violence, responding that they are very or somewhat concerned about mass shootings (83%), street crime (81%) and protest-related civil unrest (81%).
  • All three groups believe that (70%) and nearly 3 in 10 (28%) express that they felt unsafe going out in public.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 (69%), and over half (54%) believe there is deterrent value in those measures.
  • Significant majorities also agree, though, that traditional metal detector screening measures introduce unacceptable risks in the pandemic environment.
  • Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) feel that metal detectors create long lines, and two-thirds (67%) feel that metal detectors create crowds that violate social distancing guidelines.
  • A majority also believe that metal detectors require belongings to be touched by a security guard (70%), require pat down searches (52%), generate too many false positives (58%) and force families to separate during screening (57%).
  • When asked to consider how specific safety and security measures affected their likelihood of returning to venues and facilities, nearly 9 in 10 (87%) of Americans said they were likely to return if touchless security screening was in place.
  • A majority of Americans surveyed say they would prefer touchless security screening (52%) over metal detector screening (48%) if given a choice between the two at identical events.

“It’s been really interesting as we’ve watched these numbers and trends unfold,” Parker said. “We’ve really been tracking public sentiment toward a range of topics [since March] as they come up and [based on] what is timely in the news at the time – anything from the economy to healthcare to jobs to education.

“Since the beginning, we’ve actually been tracking different “fear curves,” as we call them. … The fear of returning to public activity is even greater than the fear of dying, with 70% citing that fear.”

That means that strategies and best practices for assuaging those fears, easing heightened emotions and providing peace of mind and security will continue to be critical in the coming months and well into the future.

On December 3, 2020, we’ll host the fourth episode, Why Technology Convergence in the Digital Threshold Matters with Mahesh Saptharishi, CTO at Motorola Solutions; register here. We hope to “see” you there. In the meantime, consider us as a security resource, click here to contact us.

To view our OnDemand version of Episode 3 or register for future episodes of Digital Threshold Live, click here.

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