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Weapons Detection Makes Walk-Through Metal Detectors Obsolete

Walk-through metal detectors are no longer effective for most venues. A new standard for walk-through weapons detection is reshaping physical security. Here’s why.

Physical security for venues has changed dramatically since the advent of industrial walk-through metal detectors in the 1960s and the development of the first standard for walk-through metal detectors for use in weapons detection in 1974.

Walk-through metal detectors fail to offer the protection and user experience modern venues need today. Walk-through metal detectors can’t distinguish between weapons and everyday objects like cell phones; they force people to wait in long, slow-moving lines that become a soft target themselves; they create an experience for visitors that is not only unpleasant, but is potentially dangerous.

Still, walk-through metal detectors have been the go-to solution for most venues when they develop their strategies for physical security. There haven’t been better options.

Until now. Welcome to the new world of weapons detection powered by state-of-the-art digital technologies.

Venues such as stadiums, arenas, casinos, concert venues, hospitals, schools, ticketed venues, malls, religious institutions, and others can now leverage weapons detection to significantly improve safety, deliver a better experience for visitors, and ease the burden on security teams that face enormous stresses in today’s environment.

Why weapons detection vs. walk-through metal detectors? Here are five ways that weapons detection makes walk-through metal detectors obsolete.

1. Identify weapons, not artificial knees. Weapons detection systems are designed specifically to identify weapons. In today’s world, as opposed to the time when the standard for walk-through metal detectors was developed, people are carrying more metal with them, such as cell phones or wireless headphones. Many even have metal in their bodies, such as artificial joints. The error rate of alarms generated by walk-through metal detectors is no longer tenable; nor is the process of having visitors stand in long lines, empty their pockets, surrender their cell phones and other personal items to a guard; and be subject to uncomfortable levels of scrutiny even if they pose no threat at all.

2. Offer visitors a frictionless experience. Weapons detection systems allow visitors to simply walk through a threshold without stopping to empty their pockets or remove any of their personal items. Weapons detection can screen 4,000 people in an hour, which is 10 times faster than a walk-through metal detector. Many visitors won’t even realize they are walking through a weapons detection threshold, as opposed to being stopped, patted down and otherwise disrupted at a walk-through metal detector.

3. Ease the burden on security teams. Weapons detection makes guards’ lives easier, resulting in improved operational sustainability and reduced security staff fatigue. Weapons detection will not only reduce the alarm rate, it will also facilitate the “next step” that every walk-through metal detector introduces: pinpointing the location on a person or bag where the threat was found. Weapons detection also enables the venue to use security staff personnel more strategically, not just at entryways. This enables venues to improve their ConOps with a multi-layered approach that covers more of the venue and its patrons.

4. Leverage technology for continuous venue improvements. Weapons detection is built on a platform of digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, high-end video cameras, cloud computing, and advanced analytics. Weapons detection takes advantage of the learnings and innovations of the digital age, as opposed to the 70-plus-year-old analog technology of walk-through metal detectors. With weapons detection, venues can use modern data gathering and analysis methods to access valuable information about visitor flow rates, alarm rates, and more. Security leaders can use this data and analytics to improve their security posture through data-driven decision-making that is not possible with walk-through analog metal detectors.

5. Upgrade your entire security ecosystem. Weapons detection enables the venue to integrate their digital technologies into a new type of security ecosystem that goes way beyond anything possible with a walk-through metal detector. With digitally-driven weapons detection, the venue can communicate across an array of security technologies and protocols, connecting available cameras on screening systems to VMS and video analytics. They can use cloud computing to get a more comprehensive, centralized view of the venue’s entire security posture, enabling security personnel to react in real time to potential threats or incidents. Plus, a weapons detection system can connect to mass notification systems already in place at venues, creating a broader, more comprehensive, more agile, data-driven security ecosystem.

Taking the Next Step

Walk-through metal detectors still have a place at some venues, specifically airports and prisons. This is where they were first used, and where they can still be effective in identifying small metal objects, such as knives, razor blades or scissors. But for most other venues, they are not only obsolete, but they can be seen as increasing the risk of a soft-target attack. The world has changed, and the standard for physical security at venues is changing as well. Weapons detection is clearly the technology of the future. Fortunately, they are available today.

For more information, read our "Buyer's Guide to Weapons Detection for Venue Security."