It’s About the Data – Applying Analytics to Step Change Security Screening and Operations

In 2006, Clive Humby, a British mathematician and entrepreneur in the field of data science, declared “Data is the new oil.” This compelling position has been amplified thru the years and referenced in numerous settings for various intents, particularly with the advent of machine learning and AI. While the comparison may often create interesting debate material, what is generally recognized is the finite supply of oil versus the infinite waterfall of data.

Until now, physical security screening and rich front door visitor entry data has been an untapped resource. With legacy screening systems, visitors pass through a security checkpoint as a single, moment-in-time transaction, and because legacy systems are analog, digital data escapes uncaptured in the wind— a missed opportunity.

Moving from analog to digital, Evolv has transformed physical security screening using state-of-the-art sensors and AI-based software. Our systems constantly capture valuable data at this “threshold real estate” which can be mined, analyzed and used for optimizing operational efficiency.


The refinery

Screening and entry data while plentiful is just a raw resource. From our “Data is the new oil” reference, it needs to be processed and refined to derive value. Analytics helps harness the data and extract value to improve your security posture, optimize your resources (both security, general venue operations, and front of house), and ultimately create delighted customers. 

The premise that using data and analytics to optimize operational efficiency is not a quantum physics or atom splitting concept. There’s nothing new here except it’s never been applied in the physical security screening space. In fact, some say that physical security screening is the land that digital transformation forgot. Evolv Technology just unveiled an important enhancement to our Evolv Express® digital, touchless screening system, one that gives companies access to a “refined” repository of data, self-serve analytics, and dashboard tools to improve decision-making across a variety of organization functions. Introducing Evolv Insights™ our powerful, SaaS-based analytics application.

By leveraging the rich data from Express and its machine learning and AI engine, Evolv Insights™ provides security and operations professionals with a single, easy-to-use, self-service dashboard to view, review, analyze and gather insights, from their screening and venue entrance. Example data types are granular 5-minute visitor arrival curves, total venue visitor counts, system detection performance, identified threat category counts and comparisons across multiple business dimensions including sites, entrance doors, event types, system detection settings, time periods and more. 

And this is just the beginning. Future integrations of additional Express sensor data, 3rd party data sources, social feeds like weather, and rich venue enterprise data will expand our ability to provide more predictive and prescriptive venue relevant insights.


Data and actionable insights to optimize operations

Until now, security teams have been forced to make operational decisions based on biased judgement and anecdotal inputs, collected manually under the pressure of time. With automated data collection and actionable insights, security teams move from reactive management and intuition-led decision making, to proactive, data-informed readiness. Resulting actionable insights will empower security teams to transform security, operations, and the holistic visitor experience.

  • Simply Report on Security Performance to Leadership – Quickly review aggregated performance across the install base. This “snapshot” provides unique situational awareness and enables a holistic view of customers’ Express systems to optimize performance. This view is especially helpful when showcasing system performance to leadership teams.
  • Data-driven Improvements to Security Posture – Access individual scanner, location and detection setting comparisons. Drilling down and comparing system performance related to clear rate, visitor counts, arrival curves, and more, enables root cause analysis and inspection by event types, venue locations, individual entrances, and singular scanners.
  • Partner with Operations Teams to Deliver a Better Visitor Experience – Review the density of visitor arrivals with a color-coded heat map and correlated time-series view. Anticipated patron arrivals across seasons, weeks, days, and specific hourly trends by entrance and event type is available. Understanding these load times helps to more effectively plan staffing to provide visitors and employees with a welcoming, line-free experience.

Security seat at the table and value center

The ability for security professionals to advance a “data beats opinion stance” and to provide actionable recommendations across the enterprise will elevate the interaction and effectiveness across functions. Security equipment and leaders will no longer be viewed as a “necessary evil”, but as a coordinated and integral part of overall venue success.

If data is the new oil, analytics is the new refinery!

Diving into the Award-Winning Artificial Intelligence Technology Behind Evolv Express

It’s always nice to see your work recognized, so it was gratifying to me and the entire team here at Evolv Technology to learn we earned an Artificial Intelligence Excellence Award from the Business Intelligence Group. The award is particularly meaningful because it goes to companies that “bring AI to life and apply it to solve real problems.”

That certainly describes Evolv, which uses AI to fundamentally transform human security screening, which until Evolv, has had to rely on a nearly 100-year-old metal detection technology, purpose-built for finding metal as the name implies. And, as we all know, in today’s world, we carry metal every day – our smartphones. So, it’s about time we start differentiating between a metal that is a threat, and a metal that is not.  

Evolv’s use of AI enables our Evolv Express® touchless screening system to screen some 3,600 people per hour, about 10 times the rate of an outdated walk-through metal detector. It does so without requiring most people to slow down, stop, get frisked, or empty their pockets and bags. That’s a particularly important point during the pandemic; this touchless technology allows for social distancing and requires no contact with people or their belongings – attributes a recent Harris Poll found to be important in getting people back to schoolslive event venues, and workplaces

It’s fitting that our award fell under the “automatic target recognition” application category, one of the earliest applications of radar. As radar was upon its debut, I like to think Evolv’s use of AI for screening is a technological leap forward today. 

Screening technology takes a giant leap forward

A traditional metal detector transmits an electromagnetic field that triggers an alarm upon the detection of metal, so it either finds metal or it doesn’t. If it does, you know the drill – it’s off to the guard with the wand, perhaps a pat-down and emptying of your pockets and bags, and likely another pass through the metal detector, back and forth like a yo-yo. It’s a time-consuming and highly physical interaction and I posit; do you really want to find every bit of metal?

Evolv’s technology combines AI technology with sophisticated state-of-the-art sensors which together not only detect metal but can determine the type of metal and shape of the object. That’s important on a couple of fronts. 

By looking at the data from a wide range of firearms, consumer electronics, and other common metal objects, certain consistent patterns emerge in the metals used, their dimensions, etc.  By applying AI technology, these patterns of metal content and shape can help identify what the object is – a cell phone, a set of keys, or the like. By differentiating between benign objects and threats, there’s no need for people to empty their pockets or bags. 

Well-trained AI and state-of-the-art sensors 

A number of technologies come into play to deliver on that kind of accuracy. 

Our AI model has been trained on nearly 50,000 object scans, including multiple types of firearms along with everyday items that people carry in their pockets or bags. 

Equally crucial is our sensor technology. We use transmitters and receivers that operate in the ultra-low frequency radio wave spectrum. That spectrum is able to deliver the best characterization of properties, enabling us to detect those different types of metals. 

And using multiple other sensors to account for distinct environmental conditions, our software can self-calibrate in the measurement results, to maintain high levels of accuracy. 

Unsung hero: data cleaning and pre-processing

One other ingredient in our secret sauce, and a key to what makes the system effective in real-time, is data cleaning and pre-processing. I think of this technology like a goalie in soccer; they tend to get little fanfare or glory (although plenty of blame), but for a team to excel it needs a good goalie. The same goes for AI when it comes to data pre-processing. 

Pre-processing happens on-site as people are coming through the Evolv Express system. We take all the data that’s coming at us, then factor in any interference nearby along with a series of filters that help us isolate the signals we really care about – the objects people are carrying. By the time we hand off data on a given subject to our AI engine, the data is clean, focused, and crunched into a useable format. The end result is an AI that is robust, efficient, and simple, relatively speaking. Of course, operators don’t need to know anything about the technology itself. While Evolv Express may be full of sophisticated technology, it’s simple to use.  

Harnessing the power of AI 

Hopefully, this gives you some sense of the power that AI brings to everyday applications like screening – and how it’s a sea change from the traditional metal detector. While the technology behind Evolv Express was in development well before anyone ever heard of Covid-19, it’s clear it offers an effective solution to keeping people safe from weapons and intruders, and socially distanced and safe from health threats as they return to schools, ticketed venues, and workplaces. 

I’m gratified that the folks at Business Intelligence Group could see the value in Evolv Express and saw fit to recognize us with an Artificial Intelligence Excellence Award.

Read our Press Release

The Next Step in Democratizing Security

In view of today’s announcement, I wanted to provide a little more color about how this all relates to our mission and why this moment is so important to that mission. People who join Evolv, including me, come here because we want to make the world a safe place to live, work, learn, and play. We think of ourselves as the human security company because we want security to be less invasive, more human and effective. 

I believe this mission is now more urgent than ever because we’re the only company democratizing security in a way that will actually make a difference. That’s a bold statement, but we’re living in a time when bold action is required. Democratizing security is going to be a huge effort, and I believe we’re much more likely to pull it off as a public company.  Here’s why we’re so passionate about doing this right now, in this way.

The world is more dangerous than ever before. There were 661 mass shootings in the United States in 2020, a 40% annual increase in a year when most gathering spaces were restricted or shut down. New gun purchases were up 64% last year in the United States, a country that already had more guns than people. US CDC research says 40% of adults reported recent battles with mental health or substance abuse during 2020, with the prevalence of anxiety up 3X and depression up 4X year on year. Some of that anxiety may recede as we come to terms with the pandemic, but all those guns are still out there and the polarization and inequality that drive many acts of violence remain. In this chronically volatile environment, keeping weapons out of gathering spaces must be a top priority for every venue and facility.

Consumers demand touchless experiences everywhere. Even before the pandemic, seemingly every aspect of the consumer experience was going touchless: payments, tickets, retail, bathroom fixtures, doors, minivan hatches, you name it. Crowded security lines and hands-on bag checks were just a nuisance in the past, but now they are unthinkable. No one wants security guards touching their stuff or their person without good reason. The future of the security experience must be touchless and fast.

Analog security processes won’t cut it anymore. Traditional security products are too slow, costly, and error prone for today’s world. Even the most motivated well-trained guards can only do so much, especially when they are fighting a flood of nuisance alarms from outdated analog technology that can’t tell the difference between a gun and a phone. As I wrote last year, I believe that the future of security is fully digital.  This digital transformation will not only reduce costs, but also unlock innovations that transform the experience from a trial to be endured into a social gathering to be enjoyed.

Security screening isn’t just for airports and jails anymore. It comes as no surprise that very few of the 661 mass shootings in the U.S. last year happened at airports or jails, where security screening is mandatory. The shootings happened at all the other places where people gather: schools, industrial workplaces, offices, malls, places of worship, and stadiums. These facilities need the protection that security screening provides, but they’ll never deploy it at scale until it costs far less without the jailhouse or airport experience. That’s what we do, and we’re now ready to scale it up.

The barriers to democratizing security have fallen. Security screening operations based on our technology costs up to 70% less than traditional screening based on walk-through metal detectors, and we do it up to 10 times faster. And we offer our technology under a modern annual subscription pricing model that reduces up-front costs and gives customers access to future product enhancements. Our customers tell us that we find weapons their old systems would have missed, that their employees and visitors love the experience, and that the promised cost savings are real. In summary, it is now possible for most large facilities to keep dangerous weapons out while keeping visitors, students and employees happy.

The capital we raise through today’s transaction will help us build toward realizing our vision and accomplishing our mission. That means extending our product portfolio, ramping up our sales and marketing activities, and scaling up production of our current products. Being a public company provides access to capital for these activities both now and in the future.

The SPAC approach to becoming a public company has been fantastic because it not only accelerates the whole process of becoming a public company, but also allows us to work with the team at NewHold. Their deep networks, expertise, and experience will be very useful as we rapidly scale our disruptive businesses.


Forward-Looking Statements 

This document contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws with respect to the proposed transaction between NewHold Investment Corp. (“NewHold”) and Evolv Technologies, Inc. (“Evolv”). These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” “will be,” “will continue,” “will likely result,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this document, including but not limited to: (i) the risk that the transaction may not be completed in a timely manner or at all, which may adversely affect the price of NewHold’s securities, (iii) the failure to satisfy the conditions to the consummation of the transaction, including the adoption of the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of March 5, 2021 (the “Merger Agreement”), by and among NewHold, Evolv and NHIC Merger Sub Inc., a Delaware corporation and a direct wholly owned subsidiary of NewHold, by the stockholders of NewHold, the satisfaction of the minimum trust account amount following redemptions by NewHold’s public stockholders and the receipt of certain governmental and regulatory approvals, (iv) the lack of a third party valuation in determining whether or not to pursue the transaction, (v) the inability to complete the PIPE investment in connection with the transaction, (vi) the occurrence of any event, change or other circumstance that could give rise to the termination of the Merger Agreement, (vii) the effect of the announcement or pendency of the transaction on Evolv Aviation’s business relationships, operating results and business generally, (viii) risks that the proposed transaction disrupts current plans and operations of Evolv and potential difficulties in Evolv employee retention as a result of the transaction, (ix) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against Evolv or against NewHold related to the Merger Agreement or the transaction, (x) the ability to maintain the listing of NewHold’s securities on a national securities exchange, (xi) the price of NewHold’s securities may be volatile due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which NewHold plans to operate or Evolv operates, variations in operating performance across competitors, changes in laws and regulations affecting NewHold’s or Evolv’s business and changes in the combined capital structure, (xii) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the transaction, and identify and realize additional opportunities, and (xiii) the risk of downturns and a changing regulatory landscape in Evolv’s highly competitive industry. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the “Risk Factors” section of NewHold’s registration on Form S-1 (File No. 333-239822), the registration statement on Form S-4 discussed above and other documents filed by NewHold from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and except as required by law NewHold and Evolv assume no obligation and do not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Neither NewHold nor Evolv gives any assurance that either NewHold or Evolv or the combined company will achieve its expectations.

Any financial projections in this communication are forward-looking statements that are based on assumptions that are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond NewHold’s and Evolv’s control. While all projections are necessarily speculative, NewHold and Evolv believe that the preparation of prospective financial information involves increasingly higher levels 

of uncertainty the further out the projection extends from the date of preparation. The assumptions and estimates underlying the projected results are inherently uncertain and are subject to a wide variety of significant business, economic and competitive risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the projections. The inclusion of projections in this communication should not be regarded as an indication that NewHold and Evolv, or their representatives, considered or consider the projections to be a reliable prediction of future events.

Important Information for Investors and Stockholders

This document relates to a proposed transaction between NewHold and Evolv. This document does not constitute an offer to sell or exchange, or the solicitation of an offer to buy or exchange, any securities, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, sale or exchange would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. NewHold intends to file a registration statement on Form S-4 with the SEC, which will include a document that serves as a prospectus and proxy statement of NewHold, referred to as a proxy statement/prospectus. A proxy statement/prospectus will be sent to all NewHold stockholders. NewHold also will file other documents regarding the proposed transaction with the SEC. Before making any voting decision, investors and security holders of NewHold are urged to read the registration statement, the proxy statement/prospectus and all other relevant documents filed or that will be filed with the SEC in connection with the proposed transaction as they become available because they will contain important information about the proposed transaction.

Investors and security holders will be able to obtain free copies of the registration statement, the proxy statement/prospectus and all other relevant documents filed or that will be filed with the SEC by NewHold through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov. Alternatively, these documents, when available, can be obtained free of charge from NewHold upon written request to NewHold Investment Corp., c/o NewHold Enterprises, LLC, 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, Suite 2005, New York, New York 10017, Attn: Charlie Baynes-Reid, or by calling (212) 653-0153, or by email at info@newholdllc.com

Participants in the Solicitation

NewHold and Evolv and their respective directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from NewHold’s stockholders in connection with the proposed transaction. A list of the names of the directors and executive officers of NewHold and information regarding their interests in the business combination will be contained in the proxy statement/prospectus when available. You may obtain free copies of these documents as described in the preceding paragraph.

This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval, nor shall there be any sale of any securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of such other jurisdiction.

Manchester City’s new Touchless Security Screening

Supporters will Benefit from an Improved Matchday Experience at the Etihad Stadium

Welcoming thousands of supporters into sports stadia in a time-efficient manner has always been a priority for clubs around the world.

With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic ensuring that the highest standards of public health and safety are maintained, alongside an efficient and smooth operation, has never been more important.

New Technology

In June of 2019, Manchester City FC entered into discussions with Evolv about the company’s Evolv Express® system, which provides security screening using touchless technology.

The club witnessed firsthand the free-flow nature of the touchless system the company provides, benefiting from the ability to screen thousands of supporters in a timeframe that would not have been achievable before.

Following the onset of the Coronavirus, the world of sports shut down and the once vibrant matchday which saw thousands of supporters enjoying live sport fell silent.

Over the summer months, the English Premier League began ‘Project Restart’ to bring the sport back in a ‘Behind Closed Doors’ format. Whilst this meant that Manchester City supporters were unable to attend matches, the wider club operation sprang back into action with new guidelines in place to protect everyone on site at the Etihad Stadium, which included social distancing.

Evolv Express was piloted for the remainder of the season’s matches and was used to ensure that everyone who entered the stadium was able to do so in a manner which prioritised health and safety, as well as ensuring they benefited from an efficient experience with minimal queuing times.

When the Etihad Stadium is permitted to reopen its doors to supporters again, Evolv Express will remain in place so that supporters can be welcomed back with fast, touchless and respectful screening, providing them with an enhanced matchday experience.

“We chose Evolv to enhance the supporter experience at the Etihad Stadium to ensure that the screening process on arrival is a smooth and seamless operation.”

~ MANCHESTER CITY FC

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Survey Shows Fast, Reliable Screening is Crucial to Bringing Back Live Events

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 than 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.

Figure 1

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).

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%

Protecting venues

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.

Watch Digital Threshold Live Episode 3 here:

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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. 

Finback Investment Partners

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.

Rise of the Digital Threshold

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.

Harris Poll Shows Physical Security is Crucial to Worker Well-being in Large Facilities

Workers are just as concerned about physical safety as COVID protection – and not satisfied with traditional metal detectors.

While effectively dealing with COVID-19 is top-of-mind for facilities managers at large workplaces, a recent Harris Poll survey we commissioned indicates concern over physical threats are just as or even more concerning. And the survey makes clear that, while workers welcome screening measures to promote safety, if such measures create lines and crowding, they simply won’t be acceptable in the COVID era.

New research by The Harris Poll, conducted in mid-Sept. through early October 2020, surveyed more than 500 people who work in a factory, warehouse or distribution center that typically houses at least 100 workers. The survey covered workers in manufacturing, wholesale/retail, and transportation/utilities industries. These are the folks who are moving essential goods and services through our economy, including the pharmaceutical and food industries as well as other essential goods and services.

Concern over crime eclipses COVID

Results show workers are certainly concerned about contracting COVID-19, with 78% saying they are somewhat or very concerned. But an equal 78% are concerned about mass shootings. Other forms are violence are likewise quite concerning:

  • Street crime: 79% somewhat or very concerned
  • Protest-related civil unrest and violence: 71%
  • Terrorism: 70%

78% of workers are concerned about contracting COVID-19, the same percentage who are concerned about mass shootings.

More than 4 in 5 respondents (83%) think crime has increased over the past year and 77% say the risk of violence in public spaces is higher than a year ago.

Those concerns extend to the workplace, with well over a third – 39% – saying they are somewhat or very concerned about their physical security while at work. Fearing for your safety is no way to go through your work day.

It’s not surprising, then, that workers do appreciate steps their employers take to keep them safe, with 92% reporting the safety measures at their workplace make them feel “mostly” or “very safe.” However, the majority of that group, 56%, was in the “mostly safe” camp, along with 8% who report feeling mostly or very unsafe.

More than a third of workers report they are somewhat or very concerned about their physical security while at work.

Part of the problem may be the type of security measures in place, with ID cards and swipe access being the most common, reported by 75% of workers. Only about a third have security or threat awareness training or a staffed gatehouse, and fewer yet have metal detectors (27%) or bag checks (25%).  Clearly, there’s room for improvement.

Protecting the workplace

In terms of what measures would help workers feel safer, when it comes to COVID they include simple measures such as hand sanitizer stations as well as less common ones such as walk-through body temperature measurements (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

For physical security, nearly four out of five workers (79%) think metal detectors are necessary where people congregate, including workplaces. A majority agree such screening provides important benefits, namely:

  • The ability to detect obvious threats: 74%
  • Providing a sense of safety: 73%
  • Acting as a deterrent: 57%

Nearly 4 out of 5 workers think metal detectors are necessary where people congregate, including workplaces.

Traditional metal detector screening involves emptying bags and pockets and potentially being subject to a pat-down. Even in the COVID era, such measures induce more positive feelings than negative – but the negatives are significant. Asked how this type of screening would make them feel, 69% said “calm” but nearly a third (32%) said “anxious.” And while 72% said it would make them “satisfied,” again 32% said it would make them “irritated.” Sixteen percent went so far as to say such screening would make them “fearful.”

It’s clear that COVID-19 is driving up levels of fear and anxiousness. Asked how COVID-19 made them feel about traditional screening methods, respondents reported feeling:

  • Less calm: 33%
  • Less confident: 28%
  • Less satisfied: 30%
  • More anxious: 34%
  • More fearful: 28%
  • More irritated: 33%

Workers report having a number of specific concerns about traditional metal detector screening, including long lines, the touching of their belongings and violation of social distancing guidelines (see Figure 2). Fewer but still significant numbers of workers cite issues such as the possibility for human error, too many false positives (such as a metal detector alerting on a harmless object) and the need for physical pat-downs and searches.

Figure 2

Here’s another stat from the poll that I found fairly astounding: When workers were asked what they would do if they saw a security line in which people were not socially distancing, more than half (55%) said they would not join the line.

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, [workers 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 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 workers, 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 workers safe and secure.

Workers will appreciate facilities that implement a touchless approach, as 83% agree that knowing everyone is screened upon entering a workplace makes them more comfortable. And more than three quarters (77%) 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 employees you value their safety, making them more at ease at work – and, likely, more productive. Click here to learn more.

Watch Digital Threshold Live Episode 3 here:

Download our infographic for additional statistics.

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. 

Get More Insights from the Experts

To view our OnDemand version of Episode 5, click here or the video below:

Too busy to sit in front of your laptop and watch these webcasts? We now offer these as a podcast. The Digital Threshold Podcast series is available on Apple, Google or Spotify.

 

Don’t forget to register for our next event.

Harris Poll Shows Physical Security is Crucial to Getting Kids Back in School

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). 

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.

Figure 2

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.

Read our Press Release

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.

Key Findings:

  • 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 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.