Evolv Express™ vs. the Traditional Metal Detector


By: Julie Zomar, Director of Marketing, Evolv Technology

In today’s era of viral violence, we should no longer be screening with yesterday’s technology.  Manual inspections, hand wands and traditional metal detectors are slow, invasive, inefficient, involve too many nuisance alarms and create long lines, forcing venues to choose between safety and the visitor experience. 

Did you know, some venues are actually opting not to implement any security at all because they’d rather not make the trade-off between safety and visitor experience?  This can’t be the choice you make.   

Deploying screening technology in your venue is no longer something you and your team should dread or delay. With Evolv Express™, the first-of-its-kind free-flow weapons-detection system, visitors and employees walk through while simultaneously being screened for potential threats.

Through the power of AI, Express instantly differentiates threats from personal items such as keys, coins, belts and cell phones, making it easy for guards and frictionless for visitors. In fact, visitors no longer need to stop, empty pockets or remove bags.  They simply walk right through at a natural pace one-at-a-time or in groups.  It’s the fastest weapons-screening product on the market, screening 60 people every minute.  That’s 3,600 people per hour – 10X faster than a traditional metal detector.

This two-lane system is approximately 11 feet wide and requires far fewer guards than traditional metal detectors to manage. In fact, some venues are seeing a 70% reduction in labor costs

For those of you accustomed to traditional metal detectors, it’s going to be a positive shock…

  • You no longer need a large footprint for security equipment
  • Long, frustrating security screening lines will no longer form outside your venue
  • Guards will now be able to conduct targeted searches using image-aided alarms
  • And, your labor costs will decrease by up to 70%

Finally, venues can stop threats, while assuring a welcoming visitor and employee experience.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Express-vs-WTMD-800-ppl-per-hr-1024x476.png

If at 800 people per hour, you need 50% less screening equipment, and 60% fewer guards, imagine what your coop would look like as your visitor throughput needs increase. Download our full infographic to see what screening 1200, 1600, 2400 and 3600 people per hour would look like with Evolv Express versus traditional metal detectors.

The Active Shooter Epidemic: One Major Preventive Measure Launching Today

Introducing Evolv Express

By: Anil Chitkara, President & Co-Founder, Evolv Technology


Too many mass shootings.

Too many venues without security checkpoints.

Too few technology solutions identifying the individuals who require a closer look.

Too many conversations with security professionals and venue operators asking for something better.

At Evolv, we have had enough. The “new normal,” as some have called it, is unacceptable. We’ve dedicated ourselves to keeping people safe by using technology to stop active shooters. The safer world we envision should be something that everyone simply expects without having to think about it.

Why Evolv?

Six years ago, Mike Ellenbogen and I started Evolv Technology with a mission to save lives.

Prior to the founding of Evolv, we spent more than two years conducting research. We met with security professionals across the globe and developed a deep understanding of modern threats and what security professionals need to prevent mass casualty events. We visited university labs and small tech companies to understand the latest innovations in sensors, data synthesis, image reconstruction, machine learning, and design thinking. Then, leveraging our combined 40+ years of experience using technology to solve critical, complex problems, we started Evolv.

At Evolv, we set out to solve a very tough problem: how do you recognize that the vast majority of people pose no threat, while simultaneously identifying those few who may be a threat and require a closer look. It’s a simple problem statement, but a difficult question to answer.

Our First Product: Evolv Edge  

Evolv Edge

We launched the Evolv Edge system in 2017, after about 3 ½ years of research and development. Evolv Edge is one of a kind. It’s the first product in the industry to screen people and their belongings at high speed without requiring them to stop or remove items from their pockets and bags. From a technology perspective, Edge’s combination of sensors, signal processing, detection algorithms, and user-centered design is like nothing else on the market. Gone are the white bowls for your keys, coins, wallets, belts and cell phones; gone is the need to stop and put your hands in the air. There is no need to place your bag on a table for a guard to search prior to walking through the Edge. With the Edge, you just walk through.

Since its launch, the Edge has screened more than 25 million people around the world, primarily at entertainment venues, sports stadiums, tourist locations, workplaces, hospitals, and houses of worship. In that time, the Edge has detected more than 5,000 weapons. Prior to selecting the Edge, many of these venues tried walk through metal detectors, but found the experience for their visitors to be too slow and cumbersome. These outdated pieces of equipment also resulted in long lines, creating a potentially new security target and concern.  

Feedback on the Evolv Edge has been very positive. We’ve seen first-hand the reactions of visitors going through the system and guards operating it. The most common question we are asked is “Why don’t they have these everywhere?” 

What We’ve Learned

As we deployed the Edge and spoke to thousands of security professionals and venue operators, we again asked how we could advance screening technology to make many more venues even safer, while continuing to deliver a positive visitor experience. These conversations were enlightening. We heard significant concern about several different scenarios:

  1. Workplace Violence Prevention:
    One of the biggest areas of concern was the proliferation of workplace violence. People should not be concerned for their safety while at work. Many employers, however, are not willing to put a traditional checkpoint in place. They are looking for a system that screens people with little-to-no inconvenience.
  2. Event Screening:
    Another scenario we heard was about screening large crowds for events. The shootings in Las Vegas, Gilroy and Jacksonville Landing highlight the need to screen large numbers of people at special events.
  3. Tourist Screening:
    The third scenario we continued to hear was around screening at tourist locations. Many of these locations, whether an observation deck, museum, or landmark, carry their own unique complexities. Many visitors are carrying food, clothing, cameras, and a host of other personal items for a day’s outing. Often there are international visitors speaking a range of languages.

These three scenarios were just a few of the many that were highlighted.

In many cases, security teams had tried traditional checkpoints with walk through metal detectors and found them to be unsustainable solutions. Traditional screening created massive lines, frustrating visitors or employees, and resulted in an unacceptable overall experience. These stories, which we continue to hear on a daily basis, inspired the design for our newest product. 

Introducing Evolv Express

Evolv Express

We’re now launching our second product, Evolv Express™. Whereas the Edge screens individuals one-at-a-time as they pass through the system for venues who want a control point, Express screens large groups of people at a time with no stopping, no emptying of pockets or removing bags. After eighteen months of development, we’re now releasing Express, the fastest threat screening product on the market that ensures every individual and their belongings are screened as they pass through without even breaking stride. We have incorporated the latest high-speed sensors that move data in real time to a detection algorithm that renders a decision as people pass through; with Express, 60 people can be screened every minute, that’s 3,600 per hour. The system screened more than 250,000 individuals during our pilot testing this spring and summer. As with the Edge, Express detects those individuals who require a closer look, and automatically alerts guards and security personnel to confirm those individuals are not a threat. 

How Express Works

Evolv Express combines the latest technologies and user-driven design principles to provide this high throughput, truly frictionless approach to screening thousands of people per hour. It all starts with the brains of our system, the Evolv Cortex AI Software Platform™. This is a machine learning-based AI system that uses data sets we have generated from the system to train the algorithm. The training is conducted on a methodical basis, starting with a designated threat set, such as firearms. A range of threats is scanned, and classifiers are developed, refined, tested, tuned, and hardened to detect the threat set. Similarly, a range of non-threatening items such as cell phones is scanned through the system. A similar approach is undertaken to create classifiers. As the range of threats and non-threats are analyzed by our development team, the algorithm is continually refined. Over time, as new threats emerge and data is collected, the algorithm will continue to be refined. This process is done in our labs in a controlled manner. Once we are confident in the performance of each new algorithm, it will be released and upgraded to Express systems operating at customer sites. 

A key Express component is the sensors that collect data to drive the algorithm. These sensors were designed by Evolv to optimize the separation of the signals for both threat and non-threat items. After scanning millions of people with the Evolv Edge system, we had developed a tremendous body of knowledge regarding sensors as well as the typical items that are carried by visitors through our systems. This body of data informed the design for the Express sensor set.

We have also optimized the data flow through our system. For each individual screened, the Edge system moves nearly 1 million data points to the algorithm, with a resulting red light / green light decision as the person exits. For Express, this ultra-high speed data-processing engine has been further optimized to render a decision in less than one second from the time a person starts walking through. 

A significant amount of time was spent on the Express user experience. The UX has a number of components: the industrial design of the system, the interaction with visitors being screened, the operator’s interaction with the system, and the people moving and setting up the system. Each of these elements has been carefully thought through and tested with the respective user group.

  1. Industrial Design:
    The Edge was a significant step forward in designing a system that is welcoming to people passing through it. We have taken some of those key design elements and made improvements to streamline the look even further. Additionally, we recognize these systems need to visually fit into the environment, so we added the ability for users to add custom branding or signage on a key component of the system.
  2. Visitor Experience:
    We widened the overall design to make it easier for people to pass through with minimal disruption.
  3. Operator Experience:
    Our focus on the operator experience has resulted in a system that is easy to operate as thousands of people pass through each hour. There are a mix of audio and visual cues for the operator. If an individual alarms, there is a picture of the person alarming, with the alarm location clearly outlined for further evaluation. 
  4. Ease of Deployment:
    Finally, a key element of the system is the ability to move it around to enable screening at different locations. The system has built-in mobility capability, for easy breakdown, movement, and set-up. When the system is powered on, an automatic software calibration routine runs through diagnostics, resulting in the system being up and operational in two minutes.

We are starting a roadshow to preview the Express to security professionals around the U.S.  Next week we will be unveiling at the ASIS GSX Security Show in Chicago.  After that, we will be in major cities around the U.S.   And, you will start to see the Express working at venues around the country keeping people safe. 

Our Mission

We set out to solve a very tough problem: how do you recognize that the vast majority of people pose no threat, while simultaneously identifying those few who may be a threat and require a closer look; how do you improve public security without disrupting the public? Over the past 6 years we’ve dedicated our resources and our expertise to answering these questions.

We’re humbled to have the opportunity to ‘make our dent’ in the universe and couldn’t be more excited to launch Evolv Express.

The Active Shooter Epidemic: Prevention is Possible

enough

By: Anil Chitkara
Co-Founder & President, Evolv Technology

As I was traveling last week, two magazine covers caught my attention. They describe the epidemic that is taking lives, traumatizing families, and devastating communities across this country. In August alone, 53 people died in mass shootings; many more lives were forever changed. In the days after each event, news coverage follows a familiar arc: understand the event and the shooter, report heart wrenching stories about the victims, then engage in discussion about preventing this type of event from happening again. Inevitably, whether due to politics, disagreement on the right course of action, availability of funding, or some other reason, weeks will pass, and we will revert to the status quo. Another event will occur, and the cycle will begin anew, with more lives senselessly lost and many others permanently altered. 

Despite this paralysis at the federal level, there is real, measurable action happening at the local level. My own children have been doing ALICE drills in their elementary, middle and high schools to prepare for active shooters for as long as I can remember. Think about that: reading, writing, arithmetic, and active shooter training. Bullet proof backpack sales have soared this summer. Sensors have been placed throughout buildings to detect shots fired and locate the source to help police respond. In the past twelve months, more than 500,000 people have been trained in bleeding control techniques and more than 14,000 stop-the-bleed kits have been sold. These are all important measures that help in the response after the shooting has started. 

Mike Ellenbogen and I have spent the last eight years searching for different technologies that would detect an active shooter before he or she enters a facility. We have developed technology that is designed specifically to recognize that while most people entering a venue pose no threat, there may be a few individuals who require closer evaluation. Advances in technology finally make it possible. We use the best sensors and machine learning algorithms packaged in a welcoming design, allowing thousands of people to pass through while automatically detecting those few who may be of concern. Virtually everyone walks through with a cell phone in their pocket. The technology instantly differentiates that phone from a weapon, alerting guards to those few visitors who require a closer look. Over nearly two years, our first product has screened more than 25 million people. Thousands of weapons have been detected with numerous examples of deterrence when people saw the system and decided not to enter. Our newest product is launching this month. 

Our mission is to prevent active shooter incidents. Regardless of the outcome of mental health and gun safety initiatives, something can be done today. Our technology is preventing weapons from entering facilities. We are saving lives. We work closely with the broader community of security professionals and technology companies to keep people safe. It takes people, process and technology to address this problem. Our technology is a foundational piece that we hope may reduce these senseless tragedies.

Something can be done today to curtail this epidemic.  

What Role Can Technology Play in Building and School Security?

Police

By Christian Wilson, MarketScale – August 12, 2019

Building security continues to be an increasingly important issue for business owners and building managers. Over the last decade, everywhere from commercial office buildings to retail centers and college campuses have been subject to violent attacks taking place within their walls.

With a wave of modern technology taking over workplaces in America, building managers are beginning to utilize things like Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition software to improve security measures and as a result help save lives.

Drone Surveillance

While smart security systems have played an important role on the ground, many companies are exploring how to better secure premises’ from buildings’ immediate airspace using unmanned aerial surveillance, more commonly known as drones. Security firms like Nightingale Security offer a Robotic Aerial Security Service that provides clients with drones to provide a new-level of aerial surveillance.

There are several benefits corporations can gain from drone security. This service utilizes drones for autonomous patrol missions, autonomous threat response, and manual surveillance missions. This application can be critical not only for quick response to a significant event like an oil spill, break-in or locating a trespasser, but also helps security officers on the ground have a quick and reliable perspective of the events with a birds-eye view.

Facial Recognition

Advancements in building security have been especially imperative for school districts nationwide. On this front, every second is critical when it comes to assessing a threat and protecting the safety of countless children and staff. While most schools have some sort of security team and camera infrastructure in place, the Putnam County School System in Oklahoma has gone above and beyond. It has invested $10 million over the last four years, and in a recent major upgrade, installed facial recognition software in its security camera systems.

According to KFOR News in Oklahoma, “Campus police plan to use the system to track a short list of people prohibited from entering the building. The software allows users to input a “watch list” of suspects, that is, anyone who’s not supposed to be in the building. In practice, the cameras with facial recognition are able to positively identify an intruder within 15 seconds of entering the building. Within 30 seconds, campus police are aware of the presence of the suspect.”

The main purpose of this is to add an extra layer of security to ensure people like ex-employees and their spouses, expelled students, or runaways don’t cause any harm or distractions in a place they aren’t supposed to be.

Artificial Intelligence

The high-capacity data processing power AI holds translates into big implications for large-scale access and crowd control. Companies like Evolv Technology offer physical security systems comprised of an AI-powered screening system working alongside facial-recognition to help enhance security and ease accessibility for patrons in places like sporting events and airports.

The systems are set-up at a checkpoint in a building and the video surveillance uses machine learning algorithms to match a face placed on a “watchlist” from the cameras. The system even has predetermined threat levels set for individuals on the watchlist. For example, if a red flag is displayed on an unauthorized person, they are immediately located, detained, and removed from the property. If a person brings up a yellow flag, meaning they are an undetermined threat, a person is physically dispatched to monitor the person and make a determination on a proper course of action. The company claims this process takes a matter of seconds.

This technology can help make patrons in large crowds feel safer, keep staff in these high-volume areas better prepared, and help mitigate bottlenecks and long-lines so many are accustomed to in large crowds.

Technology is Driving Modern Security

Now more than ever there is a renewed sense of urgency for companies and building managers to make sure the people occupying these buildings -are the safest they can be. The marriage between data, surveillance, and security has proven to have some serious benefits behind it. There are, however, still challenges these security firms face in this new era of security. The balance between personal privacy and general security has and will continue to spark debate and it is up to those in charge of security to make sure no line is crossed at the expense of someone’s privacy. In the meantime, any advancement in security is a needed one because at the end of the day, the better the technology in a building, the safer people inside of it will be.

Security Teams: Best Practices to Prevent Active Shooters in the Workplace

Conference Room Table

By: Neil Sandhoff

As the number of mass shootings continues to grow, the number of potential ‘soft targets’ seemingly grows as well.  One of the latest target of such violence was the workplace, where a mass shooting occurred at the municipal center in Virginia Beach, claiming the lives of 12 people. This latest attack was the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since November.

The shooter was a disgruntled employee, who previously had given little indication of the potential threat he posed to his colleagues.  But the incident hammers home our sad new reality: the threat of an active shooter can touch us in almost every facet of our lives.

Violence in the workplace is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing concern.  Security professionals, business leaders, human resource workers, and venue operators need to proactively plan for these worst-case scenarios to protect employees. And, the best way to protect employees = PREVENTION!

Based on recent events and our years of experience in helping organizations provide greater physical security, here are some best practices to prevent incidents from happening in the first place.

A One-size-fits-all Approach to Security No Longer Fits

Security experts generally agree the use of a venue specific Risk Based Security (RBS) approach is preferable to “one-size-fits-all” solutions. RBS balances security, visitor experience, operational efficiency, and cost considerations. This will help you plan for high-pressure, emotional situations in the workplace, such as terminations or layoffs.

Figure 1: Identifies the differences between One-Size-Fits-All Security vs. Risk Based Security

Interested in learning more about Risk Based Venue Security? Download the white paper authored by leading security experts, John Pistole and Mark Sullivan.

Know Your Facility

One of the first things any organization should do is perform an exterior physical security threat assessment. Walk the perimeter and identify all entry and exit points for your facility. Determine if you’re able to lock down the facility, and if so, identify what it will take to quickly make that happen without letting unwanted persons in, or a person of interest to escape.

Upon performing your perimeter check and identifying gaps, work with local law enforcement to make them familiar with your facility.  They will also be able to provide additional preventative measures you and your staff can take to secure your facility and reduce your threat risk.

Your People and Policy Power

Your organization should focus on developing and communicating strong policy that clearly outlines what to do to prevent workplace violence.  Departments and individuals, such as HR, Security, facilities managers and executives need to work together to define the high-risk incidents and acts of violence most likely to impact their organization. They should proactively put together multi-layered security plans for these scenarios to prevent workplace violence.

One critical example of this planning scenario is how to deal with employees upon termination or resignation. Your policy group needs to determine when it’s appropriate to have Security escort terminated employees from the building, and how to handle an employee when they have given their notice. There needs to be clear lines of communication to ensure that IT and Security immediately revoke computer and building access upon termination so that former employees can’t return to the premises, or access company files remotely. Once your multi-layered security plan is in place, educating employees on a regular basis is critical.

Visible Security = Deterrence

The National Institute of Building Science recently released a study showing that proactive building security design can reduce the risk of an active shooter incident.

Figure 1: Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Maintaining a strong security presence can not only deter attacks from taking place in your workplace, but simultaneously show employees they’re being protected.

Adding tighter security measures, like security guards and video surveillance technology, can help protect employees and customers, while actively dissuading potential shooters from entering the premises.

Screen for Weapons Without Using a Metal Detector

The reality is, only a select few entering a facility pose a threat, which poses the question: how do you treat the majority of individuals as the non-threatening people they are, while pulling out those very few for additional scrutiny?

Increasing security measures to protect employees should not create additional hassles on the way into work or make anyone feel like a suspect.  To ensure you mitigate risks, while maximizing throughput, think “out with the old, in with the new”:

Pipe Mail Bomb
Figure 3: This Image obtained by CNN shows a suspected explosive device received at the CNN bureau in New York City on October 24, 2018.
  • Avoid Outdated Technologies

    In the past, walk-through metal detectors (WTMD) were our best option to discover metal weapons prior to an individual bringing them into a venue. However, they were simply not designed to detect and prevent today’s modern threats.

    Developed in the late 1900s, the WTMD technology has seen virtually no improvement and requires employees to stop and empty their pockets and bags. They also cannot distinguish between a computer or phone and a gun. This slow-moving, single-file security procedure creates long lines and frustrations for everyone involved, along with a soft target in and of itself.
Evolv Edge
Figure 4: Evolv Edge®, the only high-speed smart checkpoint system that detects a wide range weapons, and metallic or non-metallic items of interest.
  • The Next Generation in Security: New Advancements in Weapons Screening

    As the threats against our safety and security continue to evolve and become increasingly unpredictable, security systems must advance with them.

    Look to incorporate innovative solutions that can mitigate risks while maximizing employee throughput. New technology, such as advanced sensors and AI, are being leveraged for modern weapons-sensing physical security solutions specifically made for today’s threats.

    Screening solutions that detect guns and other weapons can help businesses better detect active shooters before they enter the building. These types of solutions ensure that security guards are better-informed of potential threats and can take quicker and more precise action to deter an attack from starting in the first place.

Neil Sandhoff Presents @ IAVM

Airport Security: When it Comes to Employees, Metal Detectors Are the Problem

By: Bill McAteer

The aviation security community has always been proactive and innovative with the introduction of new security technologies, policies and strategies. Whether its revamping screening processes for carry-on bags or drones for perimeter security, adoption rates for new technology aimed at thwarting threats has always been a consistent focus the aviation community. Yet there is one area of airport security that remains unsolved – insider employee threats.

While the vast majority of airport employees are not threats, out of the estimated 1 million employees working in airports nationwide, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the need to protect against the insider threat. Especially with the steady uptick in insider threat incidents in recent years, A few examples include a baggage handler for Hartsfield-Jackson that was sentenced for gun smuggling, nine Dallas airport employees that admitted they plotted to smuggle drugs, weapons and plastic explosives, and a Horizon Air worker who stole and flew a commercial aircraft over the Seattle area.

Employees and Passengers Are Not the Same 

Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as applying the passenger screening process to employees. While passengers plan to arrive hours before their flight to account for the expected airport security lines, it is unfair to expect the same scenario out of employees.

When shift changes occur, hundreds and in some cases, thousands of airport workers enter the airport at once. Forcing those individuals to undergo the slow-moving and single-file screening process that is required of passengers would inevitably prevent employees from getting to their posts at their scheduled start time, thus causing flight delays, which can negatively impact passenger satisfaction and airline finances.

Metal Detectors Are Part of the Problem 

These differences in screening scenarios shine light on the severe limitations of using metal detectors in the screening process.  

The technology in metal detectors is designed to detect only metal and is unable to differentiate between other everyday metallic items, such as cell phones or belt buckles. Because of this, individuals are asked to stop and divest of personal belongings, which inevitably creates delays and long lines. Further, when guards repeatedly find that the detectors’ alarms are due to those everyday items and not weapons, they become desensitized and inadvertently less effective in the screening process.

Despite this being the norm for passenger screening, this process cannot keep up with the demands of employee screening.  

Revamping the Employee Screening Process

With these significant limitations and challenges in mind, consider looking to replace antiquated screening solutions with more advanced technologies that leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI), and utilize advanced scanners, or even biometric capabilities.

If you do choose to onboard new technologies, ensure they meet the following capabilities to best protect against insider threats and improve the employee screening process:

  • Speed 

    Because airport shift changes can include up to thousands of employees at once, it’s important that your next screening solution quickly and efficiently move individuals through without sacrificing security.

    To do this, look for screening solutions that don’t require individuals to pause, pose, or divest of personal items. Technology that allows individuals to walk through with ease will best prevent bottlenecks, and ensure employees get to their stations on time.
  • Accuracy 

    Today’s threats extend far beyond the limits of metal, with bombs and other non-metallic weapons increasing in popularity every day.

    To ensure modern threats do not go unnoticed, your next screening solution should be able to identify several types of weapons, as well as differentiate between a gun, toy, or cell phone. With advanced intelligent detection capabilities, security guards are better-informed of potential threats and can take quicker and more precise action to deter an attack to stay “left of bang.”
  • Flexibility

    Implementing a rigid and predictable screening process can unfortunately create opportunities for people to use it against the venue that’s trying to stay protected.

    The ability to deploy screening solutions anywhere at any time creates an element of surprise and significantly limits the insider threat. Airports should look for flexible solutions that are self-contained and easy to move so that security checkpoints can be deployed on a whim. 

We can expect to see the insider threat problem proliferate across U.S. airports and beyond. To get ahead of this growing problem, consider reevaluating your employee screening process, educating yourself on the problem and identifying innovative solutions to address the ever-growing insider threat. An added benefit? Creating a no-hassle screening process for your employees can significantly impact job satisfaction and ultimately help with retaining employees.

Ensuring a Safe Workplace

Office worker meeting

Intro

As more workplaces are targeted by a variety of physical threats, it is critical to examine the figures behind this phenomenon. Recent research from the world’s largest human resources organization, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), outlines a rise in workplace violence, ranging from verbal threats to mass casualty attacks. One in four HR professionals reported an incident of workplace violence in the past year, pointing to a high rate of violence that should concern all employers. Disturbingly, 48% of HR professionals said that their organization had experienced an incident of workplace violence before. 

The Challenge 

Over time, regulatory and technological advancements have contributed to safer working conditions, yet according to SHRM, a staggering two million Americans are victims of workplace violence annually, and one in seven employees feel unsafe at work. If that figure is applied to the national workforce, it means 22 million Americans go to work every day without feeling safe. In addition to endangering human lives, workplace violence can impact employee morale, retention, customer relationships, and financial performance. This pervasive issue creates a serious challenge for America’s working professionals, employers, and security professionals.  

External attacks, such as those on Westgate Mall, The Capital Gazette, and Charlie Hebdo, have many businesses looking outward for potential threats. However, 15% of workplace homicides are committed by a co-worker, emphasizing the need for internal screening. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 76% of workplace homicides are committed with a firearm. These internal threats range from disgruntled employees, like the shooting in Aurora, Illinois, to those entrusted to be in secured areas, such as the baggage handler in Atlanta who smuggled 135 guns onto commercial flights.

Importance of Prevention & Training Programs

               Naturally, it is difficult for any workplace to deal with a violent incident, but SHRM’s research shows that those who prepare effectively are significantly better off. The organization heavily stresses the value of implementing a program to prevent workplace violence. At firms with employee response training and violence prevention programs, almost nine out of ten employees are confident that they “know what to do” in a violent situation. At organizations without these preventative measures, the figure is five in ten. These figures demonstrate the importance of making sure employees understand the resources available to them and are trained in violence prevention and emergency response. 

Spotting Red Flags

History has shown that violent incidents occur at almost every size and type of business, and it only takes one disgruntled employee to inflict long-lasting pain on an organization. According to SHRM, indicators of potential violence include noticeable decreases in attention to appearance or hygiene, resistance or overreaction to changes in policy, and noticeably unstable, emotional responses. When considering potential warning signs or threats, SHRM reports that one of the safest ways to voice concerns is through an anonymous tip line. However, the workplace can be unpredictable, and warning signs may not appear until it is too late, further stressing the importance of deploying effecting security measures and training employees how to act in an emergency. 

Solutions

While more commonly targeted businesses, such as airports, have been making strides in employee screening, many other businesses only act after an incident occurs. With violence persisting in the American workplace, the need for efficient, reliable security measures has never been greater. Improving workplace security requires a variety of considerations and factors, including assessing security vulnerabilities and receiving stakeholder feedback. In order to ensure a safe workspace for employees, customers, and guests, internal and external threats need to be comprehensively evaluated, including the strategies put in place to deal with them.  If an organization decides to screen employees for physical threats, it must be in a respectful, non-invasive manner that doesn’t interrupt regular business functions. Physical threat detection systems like the Evolv Edge accomplish this, allowing businesses to utilize a scalable, risk-based security model based on perceived threat level. 

Oakland Airport deploys new screening tech to fight internal threats

Oakland Airport Hero

The following is an excerpt from an article by Travel Weekly’s Robert Silk. You can read the full article here

A new-generation screening machine is aiding in Oakland Airport’s quest to fend off insider threats from employees and airline staff.

Waltham, Mass.-based Evolv Technology piloted its Edge screening system in late 2017 before introducing it in Oakland last May. 

Unlike the security screeners that passengers are accustomed to at TSA checkpoints, the Edge system is able to detect bomb materials in addition to metal objects. Algorithm-powered artificial intelligence also enables the system to recognize ordinary objects that airport employees would be expected to be carrying, such as cellphones, wallets and keys. Another plus is that subjects can be scanned as they are walking. 

Subjects who set off an alert are quickly flagged red on digital graphic displays visible to security workers. The graphic also indicates the portion of the body where the suspicious item has been located. When a subject doesn’t set off an alert, the machine displays a green graphic. 

“The Evolv machine has really transformed our employee screening,” said Doug Mansel, Oakland Airport’s head of security. The system, he said, has functionality to allow for employees to walk through with purses and bags, but Oakland chooses to inspect those anyway, primarily to avoid false alerts that would slow down the screening process. However, employees can walk through the system with their phones and wallets. 

Mansel said the system is popular with employees because it removes the need for pat-downs.

“They’ve really helped us find this balance between security and throughput,” Mansel said of Evolv Technology. 

The full article is available here

Protect against insider threats with employee screening at airports

Are Access Control Card Readers Enough? Re-Evaluating Employee Screening Processes

Card Screen Reader

By Neil Sandhoff, Vice President of North America at Evolv Technology –

When it comes to security in the workplace, many organizations are starting to question whether access control card readers are enough. Even more, just like many school children feared returning to school this year, employees are becoming increasingly afraid to go to work – this is the new reality and one that we haven’t encountered before.

As organizations turn their attention to protecting their staff, many have started exploring employee screening options. However, the introduction of any new technology or process brings questions and concerns, and organizations and security teams will need to consider a variety of factors. For example, while employees are calling for new security measures to keep them safe, they will be wary about anything that might slow down their process of getting into work or getting to meetings on time.

Let’s explore nine steps organizations should take to implement a successful and non-invasive employee screening process.

Step 1 – Determine the value of keeping your employees safe

Leadership needs to understand the value of creating a safe environment. They should ask themselves the hard questions like whether any employees or visitors pose a risk to the organization. Did someone leave on bad terms or get fired and not go quietly? Can anyone access your building entrance?   Evaluating the level of risk, potential threats and value of creating a safe work environment at the beginning will help shape the overall process.

Step 2 – Identify the impact of not having employee screening

Beyond employee requests, management teams need to think about their larger business, and the consequences something like an active shooter incident could have on their future and profitability. They should ask themselves, “is my business at risk if I don’t put in security?” An active shooter incident can have both an immediate and long-lasting economic impact on an organization.

Step 3 – Define policies and end goals

Before diving in, it’s important to clearly define the goal of implementing an employee screening system. What are you looking to achieve? Are you looking to account for every person who enters the building or only identify specific persons of interests? Are you looking to detect guns and knives? What about non-metallic threats like suicide vests or PVC pipe bombs like we recently have seen in the news? These are points to consider as organizations build out their strategy.

In addition, some industries that work with unions will need to review the union policies before moving forward with the selection process. Unions have varying agreements, some of which require that employees be paid during screening time. Having a firm understanding of what these policies will help ensure compliance down the road.

Step 4 – Perform various assessments

Organizations should run a variety of assessments to help identify the type of employee screening that best fits their needs. For example, knowing they will be met with questions about cost, management should plan on running a financial assessment to determine what they can afford and how it will be paid for.

In addition, organizations should run a threat assessment to fully understand what threats it’s vulnerable to based on office location, design, number of employees, etc. Remember, there is no one-size fits all solution and while talking to similar organizations to get a sense for what they are doing can be helpful, every building has its own unique set of opportunities and challenges. Running a threat assessment provides organizations with the insights they need to develop a screening plan that fits their requirements and vulnerabilities.

Management should also conduct an assessment on the employee experience. Is throughput, speed, limited or no divestment of personal items during screening important to your employee’s experience?   If so, only a limited number of employee screening technologies will be acceptable to your plan. Also, take strong consideration into privacy laws and employees’ perception of privacy and obtrusive practices during the screening process throughout the process.

Step 5 – Identify and evaluate employee screening technologies

Armed with a budget and knowledge of potential vulnerabilities, organizations can start exploring the specific employee screening solutions on the market that fit their needs. Factors to consider include detection capabilities, alarm rates, speed, and the number of people/guards to operate such systems.

It’s also important to consider the employee experience. Remember, employees are concerned that new processes will slow down their process of getting to work each morning or make it difficult for them to perform their job efficiently. To ensure the experience is a smooth one, look for solutions that keep people moving, limit physical touching and allow employees to keep track of their belongings.

Step 6 – Concept of Operations (CONOPs)

A well thought out, documented plan on how to implement and conduct screening operations is critical.   Work with vendors and other organizations who have implemented employee screening to learn best practices. Document the CONOPS for various deployments that can account for changes in your security posture. Most organizations develop CONOPs for daily use and different CONOPs to employ during heightened levels of security where the threat risk is greater.

Step 7 – Develop and roll out a communications strategy for employees

While many employees today are calling for their organizations to implement more stringent security practices and processes, management teams still need communicate the new processes to employees in an official way. There are a lot of positive messages companies can share with employees about employee screening that demonstrate corporate commitment to employee safety. Environments that haven’t had any type of employee screening in the past such as hospitals, office buildings, warehouses and other large organizations are sharing more information about their employee’s desire to work in a safer workspace.

Step 8 – Take time to train security teams on the new system

With a system in place, the next step is training the security team and employees on how to use the new system. It’s important that each member of the security team gets a hands-on training opportunity and employees get information on what to expect.

Step 9 – Go live and make adjustments along the way

Once the system is operational, monitor the process and make adjustments as necessary. Get input from a variety of groups within the business to determine what’s working and what isn’t. Communicate about changes through the same strategy employed in step 7 to ensure employees feel part of the decision and process.

As employee screening becomes more prevalent across all industries, organizations are looking for the right solution to meet their individual needs. By following the steps outlined above, organizations can find the purpose-built device and the right process to keep their employees safe.

Check out our blog to learn more about improving the physical security screening experience.

Security Screening in the 21st Century: An Interview with Mark Sullivan, Former U.S. Secret Service Director

Man with bags in building

By Melissa Cohen, Vice President of Marketing –

Earlier this month, I sat down with Mark Sullivan, security industry consultant, former director of the United States Secret Service from 2006 to 2013, and board member for Evolv Technology. We discussed how the threat landscape has shifted in recent years and what people screening should look like today and in the future.

Melissa Cohen: Mark, you have an extensive background in security and have watched firsthand as security threats have evolved over the years. Is the world getting more dangerous? How has the shift in the threat landscape enabled attackers to carry out more mass casualty events?

Mark Sullivan: I understand why many people have anxiety about our world today and perceive it as becoming more dangerous. All too often we are witnessing the horror of terrorist attacks occurring around the world. In our own country we experienced the devastation and pain caused by mass shootings at schools, at the workplace and even houses of worship. These attacks are happening in open areas where historically we have felt safe and there wasn’t a need for any type of security.

Mental health issues, hate, radicalization and the ease of acquiring weapons, in most instances high powered shoulder weapons, has created a situation where they’ve kind of spawned off of each other. Potential attackers may see what other people have done with weapons and decide that’s not a bad way to go. They might even calculate that they won’t make it out alive – and if you’re dealing with someone who’s not concerned with being killed that’s a difficult adversary to stop.

MC: Given these threats, what types of businesses are you seeing conduct more people screening and how has this evolved? Are there any types of organizations for which screening is not a good option?

MS: There are a variety of businesses and organizations I have worked with that are concerned with the safety of their employees, congregations, patrons, fans, clients and contractors. They are also concerned with their brand and want to protect that as well. Today more and more buildings are checking your ID, taking your picture, directing you to an elevator and controlling where that elevator is going. This level of screening wasn’t happening 20 years ago and becomes more common every day.

However, for many types of businesses like hotels, it’s difficult and cost prohibitive to control every single exterior door with a security officer or to conduct sweeps of every piece of luggage entering the hotel.  We all want to feel safe, but what is the impact of securing every door, or the process of screening every piece of luggage?  And at what cost to the visitor experience. For example, would it increase hotel room prices? What kind of process would that create for checking in? Any organization has to weigh the risks to experience with the benefits of enhanced security. Something like TSA PreCheck is a great model for cutting down on the risk, but we do need to streamline the process for people who don’t need to be screened every single time.

MC: Along those lines, what should the screening experience look like for consumers and organizations?

MS: I think there’s a fine line between doing nothing and recommending we hunker down because there’s a perceived threat or boogeyman around every corner. We live in a democracy. People want their freedom. We don’t want to deal with security every place we go.

From the consumer’s perspective, 20 years ago, we never gave any thought to having screening at a professional sporting event. Now you go to a college game and you’re screened. What’s unthinkable not long ago is now commonplace. Today, part of the experience of going to a show or a game is planning for how long it will take to go through the scanning process. Similarly, from a business or venue’s perspective, they’re looking at their overall security plan and constantly reevaluating whether they need to have screening for their Broadway show or cruise ship or at the train station. For these “nontraditional” types of venues, it’s a matter of choosing the right technology and the right level of hassle-free screening to still allow for a superior visitor and employee experience.

MC: Do you think society can afford to not have more screening? What’s the right way to go about it to balance experience, risks and the changing threat landscape?

MS: Well, it’s really not just about having people physically screened. It’s also about having the appropriate information or intelligence to make informed risk management decisions. For example, in a business setting, many companies today are doing more to monitor not only what is occurring outside of their business but also within their business.  One of the biggest risks to a business or organization today is the “Insider risk or threat.” Many businesses are continually updating their databases on employees to keep an eye out for potential risks and watching what they do on social media. There’s so much internal and external data and information companies need to be aware of now.

For all businesses and organizations considering employee screening, it’s important to work with the right security partner who understands there are different types of threats, and different mitigation strategies for each individual threat. You have to consider people, brand, profile, policy, procedures – there is no one silver bullet that will protect you fully. You need a robust security plan, and the appropriate technology to support it.