How the Digital Transformation of Physical Security Impacts a Venue’s Stakeholders

Blog Post
Steve Morandi
Vice President, Product Management

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Publish date

Nov 11, 2021

When considering major organizational changes, like the digital transformation of physical security at a venue, security and operational leaders must ask themselves who this change will impact, and how.

Of course, as part of the evaluation of an organization’s physical security, reducing risk is paramount. All changes that impact stakeholders from across a venue must be evaluated through this lens.  

This blog considers the perspective of five groups impacted when a venue introduces touchless physical screening for weapons detection—visitors, security leaders, operations, guard staff, and the public at large—and how the results of such a change are experienced by each group. For more information on the benefits to these stakeholders, read the new eBook: Five Ways Data Improves Physical Security.

The Impact on Visitors

New physical screening technologies first and foremost impact guests, employees, and other visitors who walk through the doors of a venue. With Evolv Express, rather than waiting in long lines for walk-through metal detectors, visual bag checks, or wanding technologies, people entering a venue can simply walk through the system at a natural pace.

Touchless screening preserves the dignity, health, and safety of visitors, while targeted visual alerts delivered onscreen for guard staff return focused information about where on a person or in their bag the potential threat could be located, accelerating alarm resolution and further reducing the burden on visitors.

The Outcomes: Reducing the need to stop, divest of personal belongings, and turn over bags improves the guest experience, as evidenced by the change from 4.0 to 4.6 out of 5 ratings for guest experience at the Georgia Aquarium following the introduction of Evolv Express systems—a change the team there attributed to the replacement of walk-through metal detectors in their lobby with Evolv Express systems.

The Impact on Security Leaders

Security leaders at your venue prioritize security ConOps (concept of operations) approaches that ensure the highest degree of safety for visitors while maintaining the best possible guest experience. And while “managing by walking around” can tell these leaders a lot about what’s working and what isn’t, traditional methods like walk-through metal detectors and wanding simply don’t make an accounting of their own success—or lack thereof.

In contrast, Evolv Express keeps a count of each visitor that walks through and each alarm that is triggered, and it provides operators with the means to tag each alert upon resolution in order to identify which types of threats are encountered most. Evolv Insights provides visibility into these metrics across every day, time, and type of event at a venue: down to highly granular, five-minute intervals.

The Outcomes: The objective data accompanying Evolv Express has helped one performing arts venue find 85 knives and 20 handguns in just one month of operation with 9000 visitors.

At another popular performing arts venue with Evolv Express, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the team was able to improve their ConOps with a smaller security footprint (by 60%), improved staff use through redeployment to other parts of their venues (by 50%), and by eliminating the need for guests to stand outside in the rain—improving guest experience and security together through better data-driven planning.

They talk about this success in these terms: “Based on analytics for past events, we can make better staffing decisions—from the number needed to predicting when surges will occur. Knowledge is power and the more I can get from data, the better I can do my job and ensure the safety of our guests.”
– Chief Security Officer at Evolv Customer Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

The Impact on Venue Operations

With clearer front entryways, no more security bottlenecks, faster ingress by visitors into their venues, and comprehensive analytics for visibility into traffic at every entryway, venue operations teams can also benefit from Evolv Express and Evolv Insights.

Faster “mean time to beer” is one such positive outcome—getting people to their seats faster can boost sales and make for happier visitors that have more time to spend on concessions and merchandise. But better data can also help these vendors make better staffing and resourcing decisions, improve operational efficiencies, reduce waste, and maximize profitability. It can give guest services teams the evidence they need to gauge staffing needs and keep visitors flowing through areas typically congested after guests have passed through security—like ticketing, usher services, guides or docents, and so on.

Outcomes: The Georgia Aquarium uses information gathered from Evolv Insights, the companion analytics application to Evolv Express, to understand who is coming through their entrances when, and to tailor programs accordingly. What’s more, up to 50% of the front lobby space at their aquarium has been reclaimed from security lines and walk-through metal detectors to be repurposed as exhibit space, creating a more welcoming, positive experience for their guests.

In their own words, “With the Express systems, we know exactly how many guests enter and at what time of the day… Our marketing department can leverage this information to determine programs and spend. Our operations team uses the data to make broader staffing decisions.” – SVP of Hospitality and Operations, Georgia Aquarium

The Impact on Guard Staff

Guard fatigue can exacerbate risks at venues that use walk-through metal detectors and other manual methods of checking visitors. When everyday metal objects can cause these systems to produce so many false alarms, it becomes easier for guard staff to miss seeing weapons when they are there. Knowing a system alerted, but not knowing where on someone’s person to look, is another risk introduced by traditional, analog methods that can lead to guards missing threats.

Add to these stresses the long lines, crowded queues, and high-touch scenarios, and customers can quickly become frustrated with guard staff—and guards with customers. It’s no wonder, then, that turnover rates can be high, pay low, staff inexperienced, and onboarding time a burden for important guard roles at public venues.

The Outcomes: The Georgia Aquarium reported reduced staff attrition following the introduction of Evolv Express. And reduced turnover adds up to time and budget saved in onboarding and training. Also useful for onboarding and training: information about what threat and benign items the venue experiences the most—to ensure guards will know what to be on the lookout for when the system does alarm—along with information about what event types see the most threat items and where. This information can help security leaders train, staff, and install the most experienced guards in the right areas at the right times.

The Impact Beyond Your Four Walls

Safer, more secure venues make an impact not only on the brand but also on the community in which a venue operates. Stopping would-be perpetrators before they have an opportunity to harm people will improve the safety of venues and safeguard those in their care. Even before the threshold, would-be perpetrators often see security equipment and turn right around, either leaving their threat items outside the venue or not choosing to enter and do harm to others.

And as visitors, employees, VIPs, and other members of the surrounding community begin to realize the ease of entry, the high-quality experience afforded to guests, the reduced impact on guard staff, and the resulting improved physical security afforded to all who enter the venue, it’s just possible that the impact of a digital transformation will extend beyond those four walls. The ability to lead new initiatives in physical security throughout an industry and across a community might just set off a chain reaction of venues seeking to also improve the security of those around us—other families, concertgoers, art enjoyers, employees, sports fans, artists and athletes, future artists and future athletes—and we may all, together, begin to build a safer world.

Steve Morandi
Vice President, Product Management