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August 1, 2017

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Evolving event security to counter new threats

Temporary Event Protection

Iain Moran, high security consultant at ATG Access, discusses the changing nature of event security as part of SHP’s series of articles on the issue during the summer festival season.

Perimeter security at events is in urgent need of being reviewed and ramped up.

Event organisers only need to look at recent attacks in Berlin, Stockholm and Nice to realise that the level of responsibility they have to keep their attendees safe is greater than ever. From Christmas markets, to busy shopping streets and Bastille Day celebrations, the targets are the same: densely populated, highly accessible areas that are vulnerable to devastating vehicle attacks.

The urgency of rethinking event security is also contrasted by the relative inefficiency of some traditional solutions. Although traditional security measures are effective at protecting the perimeter, many are highly impractical when it comes to installation.

For instance, concrete blocks and steel barriers are heavy and cumbersome—typically requiring multiple transporting vehicles and early road closures to ensure enough time for cranes to lower them into position.

Bigger impact than event duration

Not only this, but events that occur over one or two days can have a much bigger impact on the surrounding area than just their ‘live’ duration. This is because disruption caused by temporary events can be extended by road closures either side of the event to allow time for appropriate security measures to be put in place. The knock-on impact of these closures on businesses and commuters in the local area cannot be understated.

For event organisers, they must take into account the level of disruption that may be required when planning out security. A hostile vehicle will be stopped in its tracks by a concrete block, but so too will the innocent line of traffic that  is being diverted while lengthy road closures are put into place for security measures. So, how do you balance disruption with the potential cost to human life?

Remain practical and prepared

Virtually all barriers and bollards will block off roads, prevent unauthorised vehicle access and control the influx of people into an event. But security decision makers must look beyond just how effective these are at restricting access when deciding which solutions to install.

To choose the most practical and appropriate measures to implement, it’s also important to consider the nature and accessibility of the event—how wide are the roads, which thoroughfares must be secured, how often does the event occur and how will this impact business and commuters?

Think about how often the event occurs

Recurring events in venues such as stadiums or concert venues—with regular, predictable levels of traffic — will require constant security to mitigate against threats on a daily basis. Given that events usually happen all the time at these locations, permanent solutions will be required to protect the thousands of people who will be visiting the area each day.

But not all events happen on a regular basis. Events that take place in town centres or on main roads rarely last longer than a few days or weeks, for example beer and music festivals or Christmas markets. Normally the areas where these temporary events are held have a low risk profile – but the arrival of popular, densely crowded visitor attractions makes them a more likely target for attacks.

When these events are held, security becomes a major priority for event organisers given the increased risk of threats. However, permanent security measures are prohibitively expensive, and are time consuming to install and remove once the event is over. It’s unlikely that permanent solutions will be needed for temporary events, so security personnel should give greater priority to flexibility—while ensuring they do not sacrifice efficiency.

Preferred options for temporary areas include surface mounted barriers that don’t need bolting down. These solutions can be quickly deployed and easily removed, causing no damage to the installation area.

Event security organisers can block off a road in under an hour with impact-tested surface mounted barriers, which have been fully certified and impact tested.

Consider renting temporary and semi-permanent solutions

Renting security solutions is a compelling alternative for temporary or infrequent events. This can also make sense for one-off or annual events where investing in permanent solutions is unnecessary.

Rented bollard and barrier systems can be deployed on a semi-permanent basis when required and stored away when not needed (where events may happen more regularly in an area, but still not on a continuous basis). This limits the need for road closures and will make it quicker and easier to install security measures when required.

Following a recent string of tragedies, there is an unprecedented amount of pressure on event organisers to ensure they are doing all they can to protect attendees and the wider public. Event security parameters are constantly in flux and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Fortunately, event organisers have a wide range of options available to counter threats. By diligently assessing the level of risk for each venue—with reference to recent attacks on areas that fit the venue profile—security personnel can ensure they install the ideal combination of barriers and bollards to help prevent incidents.

ATG Access is a leading innovator of road blocker, bollard and vehicle barrier systems.

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