5 Steps Public Sites Should Take When Evaluating Security Solutions
Several public venues, including facilities hosting sports, concerts, and other events, have begun to trade traditional technologies for frictionless screening solutions. The vendors of these solutions promise to increase the fan experience without reducing filtering capabilities. The potential can be polarizing, increasing the need to understand technology and assess your site’s unique needs.
Buying and deploying technology is one of the many ways organizations solve problems. While technology solutions can provide increased productivity and efficiency, it’s important to think about business needs and benefits before choosing a solution.
Below are five questions to ask to determine if a security solution is right for your public place:
1. What is the need and the objective?
The first step should always be to understand your business needs and set goals. Start by understanding the problem. This is often done through assessments of the operating environment and targeted reviews of current risk assessments, available data and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Remember that you are the expert in your organization. Understanding your specific business needs will guide your review and help protect your organization from paying high fees for features you may never use. While a solution may be good, it may not be right for your organization.
2. Is the technology necessary?
It is essential to think about how to meet the identified needs. Needs can often be met through training, practices and procedures. In other cases, the technology might be necessary. In addition to identifying your needs, this step can help prioritize efforts and expenses.
3. How will the solution impact other departments and stakeholders?
After understanding your needs and determining that technology is the answer, meet with other departments and stakeholders. There are likely competing priorities within your organization and you need to align your team before engaging vendors. While you’re unlikely to fix everyone’s problem, you could impact other departments and employees.
For example, when considering a customer screening solution, you will need to consider how the technology will affect customer experience, wait times, ticketing operations, staffing, and concessions. This step allows you to explore the viability of a solution and identify potential integration issues.
4. What is the return on investment?
With safety and security solutions, this can be a difficult task. We should start by evaluating the cost of the technology. This estimate should include initial deployment, recurring licensing requirements, maintenance, and training. Once we have an idea of the cost, we can study the returns. For direct returns, we might calculate expected benefits from referrals or savings from staff reduction.
Indirect returns can be more difficult to estimate and difficult to quantify. An indirect benefit could be increased efficiency and allow employees to perform their roles better and faster. When evaluating indirect returns, it is essential to consider the operational impact that a solution will have. You should contact other organizations that can share their experience with the technology. It can also be helpful to identify the consequences of not meeting the need.
5. Which solution is best suited to the need?
When possible, several solutions should be considered before making a decision. When participating in demos or trials, focus on how well each solution meets your identified needs. Remember to rank the solutions according to their ability to meet your needs; wants should be secondary. You should request and review available user instructions, training materials, independent reviews, and any solution certifications (eg, DHS SAFETY Act).
Many solution providers also offer a trial period, which provides the opportunity to further explore the solution on a smaller scale. It can also help to better understand operational considerations and potential return on investment.
To help venue managers and operators navigate these types of solutions, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) worked closely with providers, practitioners and governing bodies to develop the Site Managers Guide to Evaluating Customer Screening Solutions. In collaboration with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the NCS4 also produced the Annex on non-contact screeningwhich offers best practices for non-contact screening procedures that stakeholders can implement in addition to the screening procedures described in the Public Places Security Screening Guide.
Daniel L. Ward is the Director of Training and Exercise at National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4listen)), an academic center housed at the University of Southern Mississippi and funded in part by grants from DHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.