Survey Shows Fast, Reliable Screening is Crucial to Bringing Back Live Events
By Anil Chitkara, Evolv Co-founder
The Harris Poll survey shows event-goers are just as concerned about physical safety as COVID protection – and not satisfied with traditional metal detectors.
While these days we all yearn to return to some semblance of normal life, most aren’t going to feel comfortable returning to concerts, sporting events and the like for several months after the pandemic has subsided. The reluctance largely has to do with screening methods that, while necessary and welcome, create lines and crowding that are unacceptable to large swaths of would-be event attendees.
This is one finding from a survey of more 500 people who attended a concert, sporting event or other live, ticketed event in 2019. Conducted by The Harris Poll in mid-Sept. through early October 2020, the survey made it clear attendees want to see both adequate COVID-related measures in place as well as traditional safety precautions such as metal detectors – but without the lines. It’s a result that should have sports teams, event producers and venue facility managers looking for new ways to make attendees feel comfortable with screening processes while greatly increasing their efficiency and effectiveness.
Social distancing is top of mind
Survey respondents made clear they’re more comfortable returning to events such as conferences, workshops and conventions where social distancing is more easily accomplished and enforced. On average, respondents said they’d be comfortable attending such events within two to three months after federal, state and local restrictions allow (see Figure 1). For events that are generally more crowded, like concerts and sporting events, the median was four to six months.
That finding is consistent with The Harris Poll’s ongoing COVID-19 Tracker surveys, said Erica Parker, Managing Director at The Harris Poll, who recently joined me for a webinar to go over the results.
“It’s clear from that kind of data that it’s a bigger lift to get people to ticketed events,” as compared to dining at a restaurant or returning to the office, she said. “Venue and facility managers are going to need to do some work to restore public confidence and get people back and feeling comfortable doing these activities.”
Part of the issue is, unlike some workers and school-aged children, consumers have the luxury of simply opting not to go to events. They can also be choosier about the protocols in place before they’re willing to return.
Safety concerns run deeper than COVID
What’s more, it’s not just COVID-19 that has folks concerned. While 81% of survey respondents said they are concerned or very concerned about the pandemic, other issues garner the same or even more concern:
- Mass shootings: 83% concerned or very concerned
- Street crime – 82%
- Protest-related civil unrest/violence – 81%
- Terrorism – 72%
81% of event attendees are concerned about COVID-19 but even more are concerned about mass shootings (83%) and street crime (82%).
Nearly three-quarters of respondents (71%) believe crime has increased over the past year. In the Midwest, the figure is 79% vs. 63% in the South. Residents in rural areas are likewise more likely to think crime is on the rise, 82% vs. 62% for suburbanites.
All this adds up to 69% of respondents believing the risk of violence in public spaces is higher than it was a year ago. Nearly 3 in 10 respondents (28%) say it’s unsafe to go out in public. That’s especially true in the Northeast (35%) but far less so in the Midwest (18%).
69% of respondents think the risk of violence in public spaces is higher than a year ago. Nearly 3 in 10 say it’s unsafe to go out in public.
Against that backdrop, it’s not hard to understand why 79% of survey respondents either agree or strongly agree that screening makes them feel more comfortable at events. This is the case even though they cite numerous problems with traditional screening measures, from lines that slow the process and make social distancing impossible to relying on fallible human intervention (see Figure 2).
On the other hand, respondents clearly appreciate efforts to make screening safer and more efficient post-pandemic. Asked how likely they are to return to a venue that has various features in place, 86% said they were somewhat or strongly likely to visit venues that have hand sanitizer stations and touchless screening in place along with plexiglass shields (85%). Other desirable features include:
- Walk-through body temperature measurements: 84%
- Social distancing floor markings: 84%
- Mandatory face masks: 81%
- Handheld thermometer checks: 79%
Traditional metal detector screens, which require attendees to empty their bags and pockets, and potentially be subject to a pat-down, still induce more positive than negative feelings. But the negatives are significant.
Asked how this type of screening would make them feel, 75% said “calm” but nearly a third (32%) said “anxious.” And while 73% said it would make them “confident,” more than one in five (21%) said they’d be “fearful.” Nearly three-quarters (74%) said the screening would make them feel “satisfied” but 30% said they’d be “irritated.” Anxious, fearful and irritated is no way to enjoy an event.
Respondents were also asked what risks they would be willing to accept during a mid-pandemic screening process. The answers point to more challenges for venue operators and managers, as attendees will not tolerate use of outdated technology (61%), slow or inefficient screening processes (58%), false positives, meaning mistaking a harmless item for a weapon (52%), and even the possibility of human error (50%).
Perhaps most telling, nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) said they would simply not join a line in which people were not socially distancing. Think about that: it means someone has a ticket to an event, gets to the venue, sees a line that violates social distancing guidelines and decides to forego the event.
“When you think about the intersection of COVID and metal detector screening, and the fact that it can create long security lines, [event attendees are] not interested in that,” The Harris Poll’s Parker said. Newer technology can make a difference, though. “We find that 87% are likely to return to facilities and venues if there was a touchless security screening,” she said.
The vast majority of respondents (87%) say they are likely to return to facilities and venues if touchless security screening is in place.
That makes sense because newer touchless security screening systems create an altogether different experience. There’s no need to empty pockets, because the system can detect items that are in your pockets and differentiate, say, a gun from a metal keychain or phone. By the same token, you can carry bags through the screening system; there’s no need to empty them out. The systems are reliable enough that there are far fewer false positives, which means there’s almost no need for pat-downs.
All of these attributes contribute to another big advantage of touchless systems: they’re much faster. Evolv Express, for example, uses artificial intelligence and advanced sensors to screen up to 3,600 people per hour, about 10 times faster than legacy metal detectors.
New workplace requirements
The Harris Poll makes clear that while COVID-19 is a top concern for event attendees, their physical safety is just as important. But given the COVID requirements for social distancing, it’s equally clear that we need to investigate new ways to keep attendees safe and secure.
Consumers will appreciate facilities that implement a touchless approach, given 79% agreed that knowing everyone is screened upon entering a venue makes them more comfortable. And nearly three quarters (74%) agreed that metal detection systems make it impossible to socially distance while in line.
With a system like Evolv Express, you can get ahead of the curve and ensure potential attendees you value their safety, putting them more at ease – and more likely to attend your events. Click here to learn more.
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A Look Back at How We “Evolved” in 2020
While last year was filled with an abundance of sadness, uncertainty and civil unrest, it’s important not to overlook accomplishments and successes. As we put our 2021 plan into motion, I’d like to highlight the key awards, news coverage, launches, customer achievements and key lessons from 2020 that have set us up for an outstanding 2021. But first, I’d like to say how grateful we are for our customers and partners; you continue to put your trust and confidence in us to keep your visitors and employees safe.
January…Making Strategic Moves for the Year Ahead
At the beginning of 2020, Evolv made several strategic moves to scale operations and meet the unprecedented demand for free-flow weapons screening by raising $30 million in growth capital from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and others, promoting Peter George to CEO and expanding our research, development and productization efforts led by Co-founder Mike Ellenbogen.
Little did we know that those moves would help us keep our doors open through the pandemic and establish our market leadership among security screening companies worldwide, setting us up to assist venues and facilities to safely reopen throughout the year. As 2020 momentum was building, we were recognized as a great place to work, honored as one of Built in Boston’s prestigious Best Small Companies to Work for in 2020.
February…Working Towards our Mission of Making it Safer to Learn
One month into the year, we took huge strides in living our mission of making it safer to learn by partnering with two South Carolina school districts who installed Evolv’s AI-based, free-flow weapons-detection systems. Taking proactive measures to keep students safe was paramount for both school districts, given the increasing frequency of school shootings and related incidents. Dr. Mark Smith, Director of Student Services and Safety at Spartanburg 6, the first school in the nation to use Evolv’s AI-based free-flow weapons detection system stated, “We wanted to incorporate security technology not because we had any incidents, but because we wanted to ensure we never have one. I’d been researching security strategies and next generation technologies searching for a solution that delivered optimal security while providing a welcoming, non-prison-like environment for everyone on campus. I’d been coming up short until I discovered Evolv. They checked all the boxes.” As much as that statement meant to us, the most meaningful moment of the deployment was having a student walk over after the initial installation and say, “thank you, I finally feel safe.” That’s why we do what we do. It was Spartanburg’s ability to see beyond “the norm” that set all of this in motion and established a new baseline of security for schools across the nation.
March… Unprecedented Achievement for Evolv…and the Pandemic Took Hold
Just weeks after launching Evolv Express™ in school districts, and as the pandemic sadly began to spread, we were honored for outstanding campus security services and products, by being recognized by Campus Security & Life Safety with a Platinum Perimeter Protection and a Gold Screening Equipment 2020 Secure Campus Award. One week later, as we settled into our “work from home” routines, we were awarded the world’s most revered innovation award, a Gold 2020 Edison Award in the Threat Defense and Security Category. Winning an award of this caliber against elite competition worldwide was a true honor for everyone at Evolv.
April…Regrouping and Re-Engineering to Address the Pandemic Health Threat
In April, as all non-essential businesses shut down, or started to find a “work from home” rhythm, we saw a massive increase in factory worker hiring and an increase in uncertainty, civil unrest and the start of ongoing violence. We also saw a shift in security threats. No longer were CSOs and COOs worrying solely about weapons as threats, now they had to worry about health threats as well. Our executive team was refining our strategy, while engineering and product management started reshaping our roadmap. Security screening as we knew it was probably changing forever, and our solution was more important now than ever before.
While it would have been so easy to become stuck in what we coined, “the COVID fog”, our employees rallied together, hunkered down and worked even longer hours to serve our customer mission globally and sustain manufacturing.
First on the list for our updated product roadmap was to evaluate and build an add-on thermal imaging package to help venues and facilities spot individuals with elevated skin temperature who might be possible health threats. While our support team managed calls assisting venues with reallocating systems to different locations, our marketing team developed a customer spotlight program to drive awareness and business to customers online, and our Customer Success Team established a Best Practice program for customers, setting up customer meetings to field questions, help share trends and lessons learned across industries as everyone worked together to keep our various communities safe. And while the teams were hard at work, working remote and assisting customers meet the new security demands, we were honored by the Tech Tribune as a 2020 Best Tech Startup in Waltham
May…Time for Adaptive Recovery
Throughout the uncertainty of the pandemic, we continued to be surprised and honored, and in May we earned a spot on Inc. Magazine’s 2020 Best Workplaces List, where they recognize successful businesses that value company culture, offer standout worker benefits and prioritize employee well-being. This award helped shine a light on why we all love working for Evolv…it’s a family and we all are driving towards the mission of keeping people safe. Our customer partnerships are an extension of that family, and we knew we had to do everything possible to help venues and facilities adapt and recover. We were lucky enough to be able to call on one of our Advisors, Juliette Kayyem, to host an hour-long webinar discussing the adaptive recovery process for schools, workplaces and ticketed venues. She was able to offer hundreds of venues and facilities strategic guidance into how to adapt and recover during this unprecedented time.
June…Reopening America with Touchless Security Screening
Since the launch of Evolv Express, interest in the free-flow, respectful, fast screening had been strong. What we hadn’t focused on until the pandemic was its “touchless” capability. Because Express offers free-flow screening, and drastically reduces the need for secondary screening, we realized that Express was the only screening solution out there that enables social-distancing at entrances while still screening people as they walked in the door. And, in June, we were grateful to help reopen some North American sites with touchless security screening starting at Six Flags locations nationwide, Set Jet and several others. Together we were reimagining security in the recreation space.
What once was a “nice-to-have”, was now an imperative. People refuse to be touched. People cannot and will not stand in lines. And, Express was and is the one solution that enables safe screening at a distance. It was an ‘Aha!’ moment for all of us…
July…Taking the Temperature on Thermal Imaging as Touchless Screening Demand Surges
As customers such as Georgia Aquarium, Six Flags Theme Parks and others reopened throughout the summer with Express systems in place, we saw a demand surge for touchless security screening. We also were hearing of many other new security tactics and operations solutions enabling touchless guest experiences that were being adopted by our customers. We called upon Anthony Rivera from Georgia Aquarium and Todd Fasulo of Wynn Resorts, to host the webinar “It’s Time to go Touchless”. Their years of experience in both security and hospitality left us with a number of important takeaways, including: 1) Adopt a culture of relentless innovation; all things can be improved upon; 2) Think “five-star experience” as you approach every step of your guest, visitor or employee journey; and 3) Engage your full leadership team, ensuring public safety AND public health are organization-wide strategic imperatives.
In keeping with the notion of “going touchless”, Evolv was thrilled to launch our thermal imaging package for Express. Venues and facilities could now screen for both weapons and elevated skin temperature in an integrated, touchless fashion ensuring safe screening for all involved.
August…A Global Partnership is Announced and Cultural Institutions Begin to Reopen
In August, we announced a global partnership with STANLEY Security, the world’s second-largest electronic security company. As a result, organizations receive unparalleled expertise and the full spectrum of value-added services from the two combined companies. Shortly after our partnership was announced, we were honored by Campus Safety Magazine with the Campus Safety Best Electronic Systems Technologies (BEST) award for the “Inspection & Detection Equipment” category. As CEO Peter George stated, “As classrooms begin to reopen, public officials, administrators and security professionals alike share a commitment to do so safely. Keeping people safe is Evolv’s core mission and we’re honored to be recognized by Campus Safety magazine’s 2020 BEST awards for the tremendous value Evolv Express brings to campuses nationwide.”
Just as schools were beginning to reopen and find a “new normal”, so too were museums and cultural institutions, such as those in New York City. Our customer success team spent the month working with customers like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and several others to ensure a smooth and safe reopening.
September…A Golden Ticket to Safety and the Rise of the Digital Threshold
In September our teams were now in full swing working with customers nationwide as they slowly and carefully reopened, several of which were proudly showcasing new attractions, exhibits and entrances. One such customer was Hersheypark, who used the shutdown time to finish rebuilding a brand new entrance for a better customer experience including the incorporation of touchless screening to eliminate the need for person-by-person manual bag checks. With metal detectors, it typically took the park four to five seconds per person for screening, regularly followed by hand searching of bags or other personal items, so not only was this a welcomed change by park guests, but the park’s security professionals emphasized how easy it was to learn and use the system while optimizing their staff resources.
As mentioned earlier, Six Flags also updated their entrances, in fact, they won an Amusement Today Golden Ticket Innovation of the Year Award for their entrance improvements which included incorporating Evolv Express for park guest screening.
By mid-September, we had spent months talking to customers, analyzing market trends and watching nationwide violence and civil unrest hit new highs. We used that newly found knowledge coupled with expertise in both the physical and digital security spaces to build a new vision, one where the physical and digital security realms merge, and our CEO published “The Rise of the Digital Threshold” piece illustrating our thoughts on security of the future.
Tied to that new vision, we launched a webcast series called Digital Threshold Live where Co-founder Anil Chitkara talks with security, operations and guest experience professionals about emerging trends, lessons learned and so much more.
October…The Current Threat Environment and Reopening Safely
Kicking off the month of October, we held our first episode of Digital Threshold Live. In the first episode, Anil talked about safely reopening New York’s premiere arts venues with Keith Prewitt, Chief Security Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lisa Schroeder, Director of Finance, Performance and Campus Operations for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Thomas Slade, Senior Security Director for the American Museum of Natural History.
Our second episode was held three weeks later where Anil sat one-on-one with Managing Director of Corporate Safety and Security for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, Jason White, to discuss trust and confidence being the foundation of delivering an exceptional visitor experience. In each of these episodes, Anil and the guest speakers covered a variety of topics related to public safety, public health, the customer journey and the path back to normal.
Mid-way through the month, we proudly sponsored Counter Terror Business’ CTB365 event where our European Sales Director, Nathan Bailey, gave a virtual keynote presentation around “the current threat environment and the need for layered security strategy”, and then Co-founder Anil Chitkara joined esteemed security professionals and advocates in the final Panel Discussion & Round-up featuring: Philip Ingram, Figen Murray, Rick Mounfield, Paul Jeffrey, Gary Simpson and Nick Aldworth.
While a majority of outdoor ticketed venues were finding ways to reopen throughout the summer and fall, many of our beloved performing arts venues, stadiums and indoor arenas were unfortunately dealing with a different situation. Many sports venues allowed the games to take place, but they were without fans and most of their employees, such as Manchester Arena. For some performing arts venues, opening up was highly dependent on location. For instance, Omaha Performing Arts Venue was able to reopen in October after installing Evolv Express as their new security scanners to eliminate close contact between employees and attendees and changing to cashless transactions.
Others, such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, created an online community for arts lovers to enjoy music and live performances virtually in what they call “Lincoln Center at Home”. Others took innovation and “thinking outside the box” to a new level. Dr. Phillips Center decided if people can’t be inside to see the performances, they’d bring the performances outside to the people. And, in October they announced their new series “Frontyard Festival”, an all-new outdoor, six-month long festival for downtown Orlando that started in December. Front Yard Festival features live entertainment in a safe, socially-distanced environment, using Evolv Express as part of their security operation.
November…Time for Research
While we are in constant communication with venues and facilities throughout the world who provide a wealth of anecdotal information, we were thirsty for formal data. To help venues and facilities with their planning assumptions for 2021, we decided it was time for market research. With Harris Insights we embarked on a survey. This Harris Poll was conducted online with more than 1,500 American adults who have a personal stake in the security screening experience: consumers who attended ticketed events in 2019 (n=506), parents of school-aged children (n=712), and workers at large factories, warehouses and distribution centers (n=504). Anil and Erica Parker, managing director at The Harris Poll, reviewed these research results and discussed the implications for workplaces, schools, ticketed venues and other facilities in mid-November in Episode 3 of Evolv’s Digital Threshold Live webcast series.
December…Putting a Bow on 2020
In the beginning of the month, Mahesh Saptharishi, CTO at Motorola Solutions, joined Anil in Episode 4 of Digital Threshold Live: “Why Technology Convergence in the Digital Threshold Matters” to talk about the technological possibilities at the intersection of sensors and AI, exploring the business drivers, the technology and ultimately the effect on humans. He told us that “Machine learning are the core algorithmic capabilities that power AI,” and with regards to physical security, “when cameras, or when systems, see things, detect objects or respond to what the objects are doing in the scene, that is artificial intelligence, but that ability to detect and the ability for that system to adapt to the environment is powered by machine learning algorithms.”
In December we received three honors. Frost & Sullivan recognized Evolv with the 2020 North American Technology Innovation Leadership Award for Evolv Express™ publishing a full industry report. BostInno named us one of Boston’s hottest startups with an Inno on Fire 2020 Blazer Award; and we were awarded a 2020 Platinum ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Award from American Security Today.
To tie a bow around what we learned from 2020 and put it to work in 2021, Anil welcomed Courtney Adante, President and Security Risk Advisor, and Jonathan Wackrow, Managing Director and Global Head of Security from Teneo, a global CEO consulting and advisory firm to join him for Digital Threshold Live Episode 5 – Resilience Is A Competitive Necessity: Learnings From 2020 And Considerations For 2021. Resilience is central, it’s an organization’s ability to respond, recover and rebound, and the challenges of 2020 have made it abundantly clear that resilience planning is critical.
Looking Ahead to 2021
Throughout the year, several themes emerged among our customers and their industries: 1) touchless solutions are the key to building confidence and customer reengagement; 2) sharing lessons learned across institutions and venues within one’s industry is a true treasure; 3) a layered security strategy is the only way to adapt and recover from any tragic event; and 4) the security landscape and the CSO’s role has changed forever.
As we move into the second week of 2021, I hope you and your organization are able to use what we’ve learned to build a more robust security infrastructure and customer experience for 2021. We look forward to our continued partnerships and for those who haven’t yet reached out to have a conversation, I’m only an email or phone call away. And, don’t forget to check back periodically for the latest Digital Threshold Live event.
Cheers, here’s to a successful and safe 2021, and thank you for entrusting us with your safety.
Digital Threshold News: Episode 5 – Resilience is a Competitive Necessity: Learnings from 2020 and Considerations for 2021
2020 was a year of learning for security and risk practitioners, in fact, the blueprints they started the year with quickly became obsolete. At the end of the year, it’s time to look back on what the industry learned and what 2021 will bring with the final episode of the year of Digital Threshold Live.
Host Anil Chitkara, Evolv Technology Co-founder and Head of Corporate Development, welcomed two guests from Teneo, a global CEO consulting and advisory firm, Courtney Adante, President and Security Risk Advisor, and Jonathan Wackrow, Managing Director and Global Head of Security. Adante and Wackrow shared what they learned during this unexpected year and how that will shape risk and security postures in 2021.
2020: New and Emerging Risk Required Agility and Creative Solutions
No matter what industry, size, or level of success, most organizations were not prepared for a pandemic. Even when more information about COVID-19 became available, and there were shifts in work, Adante commented, “We were building solutions on the fly. This mode of operating will likely continue into 2021.”
Wackrow agreed, “Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the face, and everyone got punched in the face. Those that have been successful, identified threats with the virus and pivoted quickly with a model of resilience and flexibility.”
COVID-19 wasn’t the only risk in 2020. Civil unrest around social and criminal justice reform, a faltering economy, rising crime rates, mental health issues, cyber-attacks, and natural disasters also commanded attention in 2020. Those same challenges will carry into 2021.
How Do Organizations Move Forward with Risk Management?
Adante and Wackrow discussed risk monitoring and intelligence, and their importance. They are leveraging data analysis and expert critiques to add context while concurrently teaching their clients how to do this.
Wackrow said, “In thinking about threat domains and how they impact your organization, it’s not only about consequences and severity, but how are you going to respond? You don’t want to be in a reactive model.”
A New Domain for Security: Health Security
In the realm of security, prior to a pandemic, the branches were physical and cyber. Now companies realize that health security also has to be part of that conversation. It becomes a new pillar requiring subject matter expertise, and is not something traditionally part of the security component. “We’re seeing hiring of chief medical officers outside of healthcare, in airlines and real estate developers. Businesses are now prioritizing this expertise,” Adante added.
This new part of security is changing the role of the Chief Security Officer (CSO).
The New CSO
Traditionally, a CSO has been about gates, guards, and guns. 2020 has disrupted this idea, and the role will never be the same. The CSO has three areas now: physical, cyber, and health. The CSO isn’t necessarily the expert on all these things, so that’s causing three shifts.
First, CSOs will have to think about risk management and strategy, along with its alignment with business operations and strategy.
Second, they’ll need to form collaborative relationships with leaders in HR, information security, and operations.
Third, there are now new issues on the plate, with physical locations mostly being empty. “New issues in security are now part of the story with the ‘work-from-home’ model. Those aren’t going away and may become bigger,” Adante said.
Resiliency: What Does That Mean in 2021?
The last question for security and risk leaders is to think about what resiliency means in 2021. It’s not about business continuity. Most businesses had those before the pandemic. They were very IT-focused. Companies need to integrate the three pillars of security — physical, cyber, and health to create a more sustainable version of resiliency.
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Digital Threshold Live Episode 4 Blog – Why Technology Convergence in the Digital Threshold Matters
The continued acceleration of the digital transformation has unleashed seemingly limitless possibilities for technological applications, from the widespread global standpoint all the way down to the personal level. The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) presents incredible opportunities in many arenas, including the practical application of physical security.
Anil Chitkara, Evolv Technology Co-founder and host of Digital Threshold Live, was joined by Mahesh Saptharishi during episode No. 4 to discuss the technological possibilities at the intersection of sensors and AI. Saptharishi is the CTO of Motorola Solutions and leads innovation of mission-critical communications, as well as video and command center software.
Saptharishi provided a detailed and thorough perspective on the synergies of machine learning, AI, big data and analytics and how each plays a necessary part in the digital threshold and the creation of state-of-the-art physical security systems.
“Machine learning are the core algorithmic capabilities that power AI,” Saptharishi said. With regards to physical security, “when cameras, or when systems, see things, detect objects or respond to what the objects are doing in the scene, that is artificial intelligence, but that ability to detect and the ability for that system to adapt to the environment is powered by machine learning algorithms.”
Episode 4 Highlights and Provides Insights on the Security Threshold
Saptharishi explained that AI has come a long way in the past 10 years as computing power and speed have taken major strides – in large part due to the evolution of gaming GPUs.
“I think storage becoming cheaper, network bandwidth becoming cheaper, the ability to collect data becoming more practical – that acted as a fuel that powered all these algorithms to develop further and actually reach their performance potential and become practical through the processor technology that has come out,“ Saptharishi said.
This has been instrumental in AI development. One such real world application is AI understanding audio and speech patterns, as well as analyzing video. Utilizing improved GPU technology, these computations can now be done in real time. What once was done with multiple computers can now be done from your phone.
Chitkara asked about the human impacts of AI and whether this technology is replacing people or helping them.
To a degree, AI can replace or augment existing jobs done by humans.
“But, that said, humans are not static entities in terms of how we apply our intelligence,” Saptharishi said. When AI replaces certain tasks, people can focus on other areas where AI does not apply presently or perhaps cannot perform in the same way a human would.
For example, AI can assist law enforcement by helping search for people on video or by calling the attention of the officer to a particular situation that would require human judgement on whether or not intervention is applicable.
Saptharishi also explained the process of developing AI for particular applications. It starts by identifying the human factor opportunities. By shadowing individuals as they progress through their normal tasks, the development team can determine tasks that can be automated or assisted through technology.
This can greatly increase the productivity of the individual. With the automation of sensory actions, people can do things earlier, faster and also allow for more response time to particular situations, as technology has assisted in collecting information in an expedited manner.
In terms of security and technology, Saptharishi noted some key trends that have emerged. One trend is the combination of sensing modalities to create more powerful solutions. Other trends are the increased utilization of cloud connectivity and the integration of public safety, private security and enterprise security.
Chitkara and Saptharishi also discussed the security threshold and the factors that make AI successful for this application.
“Along with this notion that you need a high throughput solution, the threshold cannot become a bottleneck,” Saptharishi said.
The technology threshold needs to be as seamless as possible and not become an overwhelming burden to the flow of people. Secondly, the threshold needs to identify a person along with the right context. Is this person permitted to enter? Along with that identity permission, is this person bringing along something that is not permitted, such as a weapon or an illness?
“The days of somebody sitting in front of a security operations center, watching a video wall, hoping that they can detect something that is potentially suspicious or requires attention – I think those days are starting to reduce,” Saptharishi said.
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Harris Poll Shows Physical Security is Crucial to Getting Kids Back in School
By: Anil Chitkara, Evolv Technology Co-founder
Parents are equally concerned about mass shootings and COVID; the majority want weapons screening in place.
While effectively dealing with COVID-19 is top-of-mind for facilities managers as they work toward getting students back to school full-time, a recent Harris Poll we commissioned indicates there’s significant concern over violence and crime to be overcome as well. And in the COVID era, traditional screening methods that create lines and crowding will no longer be acceptable as a mitigation measure.
For the poll, more than 700 parents of K-12 school-aged children were surveyed in Sept. and Oct. 2020. It found 87% of the parents were either very or somewhat concerned about their kids contacting COVID upon returning to school. But concern over their physical security was a close second, at 81%. Although parents in urban areas were more likely to be somewhat or very concerned than their suburban counterparts, over half of suburban parents are concerned about the physical security of their children, 74% vs. 54%, respectively.
Eight out of ten parents are concerned about the physical security of their school age children.
COVID measures yes, but physical security, too
It’s a similar story when looking at COVID-19 prevention protocols and measures to ensure physical safety.
Having schools follow federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols is important to parents feeling safe about their kids. More than 90% of parents say it’s important for schools to ensure frequent handwashing and sanitizing, increased cleaning, mask wearing, social distancing and temperature screening (see Figure 1).
While that is certainly understandable, what may be surprising is that parents are nearly as concerned over physical security measures intended to keep students safe. More than 9 in 10 parents said it was somewhat or very important that each of the following measures be in place:
- Locked doors and visitors showing ID: 92%
- Presence of law enforcement: 92%
- All classrooms have door locks: 91%
- Metal detector for screening: 91%
Over 90% of parents say it is important to have a metal detector to screen for weapons coming into schools.
Part of the reason for concern over physical security measures is a fear of violence in public spaces. Sadly, school safety has been an issue for decades now. But concern seems to be growing, as the poll found 68% of parents think the risk is higher now than a year ago. Perhaps even more concerning, more than a third (31%) say going out in public is “mostly” or “very” unsafe.
Almost 90% of parents are concerned about a mass shooting in schools, matching the same level of concern about COVID.
In fact, parents are just as concerned over the risk of various sorts of physical violence as they are of COVID. Indeed, 88% of parents are somewhat or very concerned about COVID, the exact same number as for mass shootings. The numbers are similar for other forms of threats:
- Protest-related civil unrest/violence: 86%
- Street crime: 83%
- Terrorism: 76%
COVID-related issues with metal detectors
So, it’s clear schools will have to take steps to assuage parents’ concerns over various physical threats. But the poll makes clear the pandemic is making that more challenging.
Parents now see issues with traditional metal detector screening. More than three quarters of parents are concerned that screening can create long lines and requires a student’s belongings to be touched by a security guard (see Figure 2). Fewer but still significant numbers of parents cite issues such as the possibility for human error, creating crowds that violate social distancing guidelines, and the need for physical pat-downs and searches.
The poll makes clear any schools using traditional metal detector screening are in for some backlash from parents. In the COVID era, at least half of parents are not willing to accept many of the problems associated with traditional metal detectors, including:
- Crowds that violate social distancing guidelines
- Use of outdated technology
- False positives
- Slow or inefficient processes
- Physical pat down searches
Three out of four parents are concerned that security screening creates lines, and two thirds of them would not join a line that lacked social distancing.
Here’s another stat from the poll that I found fairly astounding: When parents were asked what they would do if they saw a security line in which people were not socially distancing, nearly two-thirds (65%) said they would not join the line. This inclination was far more pronounced in urban (73%) and suburban (64%) areas than rural (43%).
A touchless screening experience
I discussed this issue, along with many others, in a webinar with Erica Parker, Managing Director at The Harris Poll. “When you think about the intersection of COVID and metal detector screening, and the fact that it can create long security lines, [parents are] not interested in that,” she said. Newer technology can make a difference, though. “We find that 87% are likely to return to facilities and venues if there was a touchless security screening,” she said.
The vast majority of parents (87%) say they are likely to return to facilities and venues if touchless security screening is in place.
That makes sense because newer touchless security screening systems create an altogether different experience. There’s no need to empty pockets, because the system can detect items that are in your pockets and differentiate, say, a gun from a metal keychain or phone. By the same token, you can carry bags through the screener; there’s no need to empty them out. The systems are reliable enough that there are far fewer false positives – meaning mistaking a harmless item for a weapon – which means there’s no need for pat-downs.
All of these attributes contribute to another big advantage of touchless systems: they’re much faster. Evolv Express, for example, uses artificial intelligence and powerful sensors to screen up to 3,600 people per hour, about 10 times faster than legacy metal detectors.
New back to school requirements
The Harris Poll makes clear that while COVID-19 is a top concern for parents of K-12 students, their physical safety is a close second. But given the COVID requirements for social distancing, it’s equally clear that we need to investigate new ways to keep kids safe and secure.
Parents will appreciate schools that implement a touchless approach, as 85% of them agree that knowing everyone is screened upon entering a school building makes them more comfortable. And more than three quarters (78%) agreed that metal detection systems make it impossible to socially distance while in line.
With a system like Evolv Express, you can get ahead of the curve and safely welcome kids back to school. To learn more, visit Evolv.
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.
- 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 the risk of public violence is getting worse (70%) and nearly 3 in 10 (28%) express that they felt unsafe going out in public.
- Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) Americans value the general sense of safety that physical security measures provide, 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.
Tune In to the Next Episode of Digital Threshold Live
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 click on the video below, or register for future episodes of Digital Threshold Live, click here.
Too busy to sit in front of your laptop and watch these webcasts? New this month, we now offer these as a podcast. The Digital Threshold Podcast series is available on Apple, Google or Spotify.
Digital Threshold News: Episode 2 Recap
In the second episode of Digital Threshold Live, “Trust and Confidence: The Foundation of Delivering an Exceptional Visitor Experience,” host Anil Chitkara, Evolv Technology Co-founder and Head of Corporate Development, was joined by Jason White, Managing Director of Corporate Safety and Security for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts.
Episode 2 Highlights
Hershey Entertainment and Resorts has done an excellent job navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The company proactively discussed procedures at the start of the new year before COVID-19 really made its way to the United States, keeping the safety of its staff and customers at the forefront of risk management and business continuity strategies.
Chitkara and White discussed a variety of topics related to public safety, public health, the customer journey and the path back to normal, including:
- Safely reopening in the wake of the pandemic, including technologies and strategies helping to make that possible.
- Creating a touch-free, contactless environment using technology such as Evolv’s touchless security screening systems.
- Safeguarding guests and employees with rigorous safety protocols, including temperature checks and COVID questionnaires as a health defense at each entrance.
- Balancing uncompromising security and an outstanding guest experience.
- Being prepared for inevitable staff quarantines and making sure Hershey Entertainments and Resorts was not short-staffed.
- Having a plan in place as health protocols and dynamics shift. “We have very, very strict and very detailed exposure response plans that have worked very well for us to the point where we’ve had no cases of community spread within HE&R, which is something we’re very proud of,” White said.
Venue security and venue reopening are complex topics, but leaders like White are developing a roadmap toward a new normal and beyond.
You can view the OnDemand version of the webcast by clicking on the video below.
To view OnDemand versions of other Digital Threshold Live episodes or register for future ones, click here.
Too busy to sit in front of your laptop and watch these webcasts? We offer these as a podcast. The Digital Threshold Podcast series is available on Apple, Google or Spotify.
The Current Threat Environment and the Need for a Layered Security Strategy – Keynote Presentation
Evolv Technology was a proud sponsor of the Counter Terror Business 365 Virtual event on October 8, 2020. During the virtual event, Nathan Bailey, Evolv Technology Sales Director of EMEA, gave a keynote presentation where he discussed the current threat environment, the need for touchless security screening in this new normal and how Evolv can help keep venues and facilities safe from terrorists and pandemic health threats worldwide.
Here is that keynote presentation.
Watch other CTB365 event presentations, including the final Panel Discussion & Round-up featuring: Philip Ingram, Figen Murray, Rick Mounfield, Paul Jeffrey, Gary Simpson, Nick Aldworth and our own Co-founder, Anil Chitkara – Click here.
ABOUT NATHAN BAILEY:
Sales Director, EMEA – Evolv Technology
For twenty plus years, Nathan Bailey has been a recognised leader in the security sector. From a young inspired engineer working on vehicle explosives detection systems to running a company providing the best technology to combat contraband and weapons from entering prisons and courts, Nathan has never wavered from the mission of keeping people safe.
At Evolv, he has responsibility for market development and customer success across Europe. Nathan has worked with some of the world’s most recognized sports clubs and event operators, bringing the full breadth of his screening systems expertise to organisations committed to physical and health safety.
ABOUT EVOLV TECHNOLOGY
Evolv Technology provides touchless security screening systems that ensure safety without sacrificing the visitor experience. The company’s latest product, coupled with a thermal imaging package, spots concealed weapons and potential virus infection threats using advanced digital sensors and artificial intelligence that is incredibly accurate, discreet and delivers significantly more throughput than older technologies. Evolv Express™ has earned industry accolades such as the 2020 Edison Awards™, two Campus Safety 2020 BEST Awards, and Campus Security & Life Safety magazine’s Secure Campus 2020 Awards.
Evolv’s customers include hundreds of corporations, airports, schools, cultural landmarks, hospitals, outdoor entertainment venues, stadiums and large-scale events around the globe. Led by a team of security industry thought leaders with a track record for delivering first-to-market products, the company holds more than 100 patents. For more information, visit https://evolvtechnology.com.
Hi my name is Nathan Bailey – Sales Director for Evolv technology and it’s my pleasure to be able to speak to you today and talk to you about the current threat environment, the need for a layered security strategy and a little about our products and services that have been widely used across the world today.
Before I begin, I’ll give you a little background about Evolv Technology…
Evolv was founded on the belief that everyone deserves to live, work, learn and play in a safe environment; free from terrorist activity, free from attack and free to live life to the fullest without fear.
Evolv technology was founded in 2013 and since then has grown to become the leader in touchless security screening technology across the US and following this success is developing and growing throughout the world today.
We’ve seen over the last few years just how much the world is changing, with extremism moving from well-organized terror cells such as al Qaeda to your local activist who are radicalized through online propaganda
We’ve seen attacks such as the Paris shootings, London Bridge attacks and Parsons green tube station to name just a few, we can see that these attacks come in many forms and from many mediums and now to top it all off we have a biothreat, to which the industry has been crippled.
As we have heard from Figen and Nick today we need to learn from these tragic events in the past to make things better for the future. With the new legislation coming out, every venue must do what is right to secure the public, the venue and their staff, from becoming a victim to such attacks.
We must seek at all levels to provide the best we can at every moment because one life lost is one too many.
Now there is no silver bullet to any of the challenges we face but we believe that one right step at a time and with the right approach we can improve and reduce the number of attacks the adversary inflicts.
The combination of an unprecedented number of weapons and unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression creates an unprecedented danger. We are living in an era of armed anxiety. Even though people are not gathering at scale today, that will change someday soon. Any gathering or workplace could be the next target. Any employee or visitor could suddenly erupt into the next violent threat. Any fan could reach their breaking point during an argument in your stands.
It could happen anywhere at any time.
So, when we look to the future and consider reopening the doors once again to the public, to our fans and visitors, we must consider that the attitude will be different, some people will be anxious about returning to larger gatherings not just because of the Biological threat but also the very real terror threat, and so as a company we aim to provide a solution that enables venues to reopen its doors with confidence, to provide a platform which is inviting to the visitors, fans and public. A system which reduces human to human contact and at the same time prevents weapons of mass destruction from entering.
Reopening your venues will bring many challenges just, as we have heard from the guest speakers so far today and having worked with many sports stadiums, Event Arenas, theme parks, exhibition centers and conference halls , museums, hospitals and performing arts venues across the world prior to and during the COVID-19 Pandemic we understand just how difficult it is to plan for the new future. It’s important to remember, while you look to create a safer environment from biological threats, you cannot let your guard down on public safety related to weapons threats. You have a duty to protect all who enter from both public safety and public health.
We have heard from Rick Mountfield on the role of the security officer and I wanted to say that in almost all client engagement I have had over the past 6 months or so, staffing is one of the biggest concerns, with the ever increasing terror threat and now with the COVID-19 Bio threat, we have seen a large decline in the number of security personnel available and I’m sure that this has crossed your mind when looking at your reopening plans?
Because our Evolv Express system is capable of such a high flow rate for screening it replaces in excess of 10 to 15 metal detectors depending on your operational layout and as such reduces the number of security guards required to operate. This in turn allows our clients to reduce their security teams considerably, save a huge portion of costs and then reinvest in retraining and repurposing the additional head count to perform other duties such as crowd management and behavioral detection, or you can look at getting canine teams in or use the money for additional screening systems… or simple save money and reduce your overheads.
Express enables fast, respectful, touchless screening for your security teams, fans, and patrons; No longer are people required to divest their personal belongings before passing through security, No longer does the security officer have to carry out additional metal wanding or pat downs to every person who walks through which infringes on personal space and puts both the officer and visitor at a greater risks of human to human contact. With a screening capacity of more than 3600 people per hour, the Evolv Express provides free-flow screening at the pace of life, and with its proprietary artificial intelligence platform, Express is able to differentiate between every day personal items like cell phones, keys and coins and Mass casualty Weapons.
I could talk all day about our system and its performance but I won’t, I hope you have a great time in session 2 and as I say goodbye I’ll leave you with this video which shows everything I’ve spoken about. If you want to learn more or talk to us, then please connect with me or one of the team after the show…
<Express video plays>
Digital Threshold News: Introduction & Episode 1 Recap
Welcome to Digital Threshold News. In this newsletter, we’ll keep you up-to-date on all the latest insights and thought leadership from our Digital Threshold Live webcast series and podcasts.
These webcasts and podcasts give us the opportunity to bring you the latest industry trends and lessons learned from professionals and practitioners who are at the intersection of venues and technology to keep you ahead of the curve. The goal is to give you specific, targeted actions you can bring back to your organization and inspire you to think about how the future of the industry is taking shape.
In the first episode of Digital Threshold Live, “Safely Reopening New York’s Art Venues in a Pandemic,” host Anil Chitkara, Evolv Technology Co-Founder and Head of Corporate Development, was joined by three impressive industry guests:
- Keith Prewitt, Chief Security Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Lisa Schroeder, Director of Finance, Performance and Campus Operations for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
- Thomas Slade, Senior Security Director for the American Museum of Natural History
Alongside many of New York City’s cultural institutions, these leaders formed a coalition of sorts to bring together the city’s brightest minds in the face of the daunting task of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and, now, reopening efforts aimed at creating a safer environment in a city accustomed to approximately 60 million tourists annually.
Episode 1 Highlights
Chitkara and the trio of industry leaders discussed a variety of topics relating to public safety, public health, the customer journey and the path back to normal, including:
- Safely reopening in the wake of the pandemic, including technologies and strategies helping make that possible
- The impact of, and desire for, touchless customer experiences
- The importance of risk mitigation and continuity plans that empower you to be agile and adaptable in an ever-changing environment
- How art venues, in particular, are giving visitors and staff alike peace of mind
- How the visitor journey is being impacted by social distancing, patron screening, and more
- Emerging and re-emerging technologies, such as temperature screening
Venue security and venue reopening are complex topics, but leaders like Prewitt, Schroeder and Slade are developing a roadmap toward a new normal and beyond.
You can view the OnDemand version of the webcast by clicking on the video below.
To view other OnDemand episodes of Digital Threshold Live, click here.
Too busy to sit in front of your laptop and watch these webcasts? We offer these as a podcast. The Digital Threshold Podcast series is available on Apple, Google or Spotify.
5 minutes with Peter George – The rise of physical security screening technology
The pandemic has made one thing clear for security professionals across the globe, there is no going back to the old analog, invasive security screening methods we’ve used for decades such as metal detectors, hand wands and pat downs.
Evolv Technology CEO, Peter George, recently talked with Security Magazine where he called upon his decades-long track record in the cybersecurity industry to discuss how physical security is entering that same digital transformation.
In this interview, you’ll hear Peter discuss why the future of people screening must be touchless and digital in order to deal with the realities of today’s threats from weapons and viruses, and, while it’s impossible to specifically predict every new threat, digital technology makes it possible to reduce the window of exposure and minimize disruption. That’s what Evolv’s Digital Threshold vision could deliver, creating Agile Readiness.
Read the full interview.