Live events at large venues like arenas, stadiums or convention halls – whether they involve wrestlers breaking chairs over each other’s heads, Axl and Slash letting bygones be bygones and reuniting Guns ‘n’ Roses, your favorite NFL team annihilating the opposition 62-3, or a convention involving anything from politics to food to Star Trek – are exciting affairs that channel the camaraderie of the crowd into a powerful collective energy. But they also are vulnerable to threats.

Physical Security Solutions

Terrorists and other malefactors have known for centuries that any large gathering of people has inherent vulnerabilities on which they can prey: Crowds make it hard for security to keep track of any single person or spot unusual behavior, and the number of people congregated in one space amplifies the impact of any attack.

In recent years, organizers of large events have augmented the security methods they use to protect a venue, using both walk-through metal detectors and hand wands, and deploying K9 and police units to patrol the lines to enter security. But these current methods share a universal flaw: to be caught, evil-doers have to be on the verge of actually entering the venue with hundreds of other people, which means they can still cause a massive amount of destruction.

In a survey conducted by Brivo, 50 percent of business security leaders felt they lack adequate budget and financial resources to invest in physical security solutions.

Augmented Security Measures

Organisers of large events have augmented the security methods they use to protect a venue, using both walk-through metal detectors and hand wands Security professionals and event organizers are constantly on the verge of finding new methods to implement in order to add an extra layer of security at venues and large facilities. For example, at this year’s Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California, which attracts over 100,000 attendees each year, organizers boosted their security initiatives by adding drones, armed guards, magnetometers and dog patrols.

Unfortunately, large entertainment festivals have been a target for ill-intended individuals. Last year, the 91 Route Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada took the lives of more than 50 people and injured over 500.

In the United Kingdom, 22 people lost their lives to a suicide bomber at an Arianna Grande concert in the Manchester Arena. Yet, concerts aren’t the only place new security initiatives and technology need to be implemented in, but also sports arena and large facilities.

Ferromagnetic detection at a venue’s perimeter detects weapons of mass casualty before terrorists get too close
Metrasens partnered with Villa Park, the football grounds for Aston Villa Football Club in the UK, to conduct a trial using FMDS technology, Proscreen 900, to screen fans

Current Screening Methods

Conventional walk-through metal detectors are a compromise between effective screening and high throughput, as they successfully detect metal objects, but only can screen about five or six people each minute. They are generally placed 10 to 20 yards from a venue’s front façade, either just outside or just inside, to screen people as they enter the facility. Hand wands are used for anyone that sets off the walk-through detector as a secondary screening method for confirmation.

Many facilities also use observational methods to screen, such as drones, surveillance cameras, security officers or police walking the crowd and looking for suspicious behavior, or explosives-sniffing K9 units patrolling the area.

Security personnel are aware of these pre-security-screening vulnerabilities around the perimeter of the venue

Security Method Limitations

Each of these methods has intrinsic limitations. Observational security methods are just that – observation-based, not detection-based. They rely much more heavily on human factors that introduce greater degrees of error and chance, and positive visual identification of a suspicious threat requires a relatively close proximity to observe the threat. They’re also slow and laborious.

Walk-through detectors and wands will catch someone trying to enter a facility with a weapon, but by the time they do, it may be too late – a terrorist will already be well within proximity to do a lot of damage. Bad guys don’t need to actually enter the venue; they just need to get close enough to injure or kill a large number of people.

That can happen – and has happened, such as with Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 – right at the security point, where a terrorist will be surrounded by dozens or hundreds of people and 10 to 20 yards away from the critical asset: the interior of the venue.

Security personnel are aware of these pre-security-screening vulnerabilities around the perimeter of the venue. What they haven’t had until recently is a way to screen mass amounts of people for weapons of mass casualty as far away from the critical asset as they can, and as far away from densely populated areas as they can, all while not impeding throughput resulting from the requirement for patrons to divest their possessions.

Expanding Security Reach With FMDS

The far perimeter of a venue is an ideal place to screen for weapons of mass casualty. Most of the time, a terrorist is trying to get closer to the immediate perimeter of the venue, to inflict the most damage to large groups of people waiting to get in; farther away, event attendees are walking toward the entrance and thus are more dispersed, not standing in clusters or lines. This advance screening is possible using ferromagnetic detection systems (FMDS).

The far perimeter of a venue is an ideal place to screen for weapons of mass casualty
The FMDS systems in the trial, Proscreen 900, were placed outside, where individuals were screened for large weapons before they even entered the football stadium

Metrasens recently partnered with a football stadium in Birmingham, UK to conduct a trial using FMDS technology to screen fans. The trial took place in March at Villa Park, the football grounds for Aston Villa Football Club. The stadium can hold over 42,000 people. The FMDS systems in the trial, Proscreen 900, were placed outside, where individuals were screened for large weapons before they even entered the football stadium, adding an extra layer of security.

FMDS is highly accurate – there is no false alarm rate, because it is programmed to find only what security personnel need to find

In the most basic terms, FMDS uses passive sensors that evaluate disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field made by something magnetic moving through its detection zone. Everything else is invisible to it; it doesn’t see people, clothing, backpacks, purses, etc. Nothing can be used to shield the threat, because FMDS doesn’t detect metallic mass; it detects a magnetic signature, down to a millionth of the earth’s magnetic field.

It is also highly accurate – there is no false alarm rate, because it is programmed to find only what security personnel need to find (e.g., a weapon). Although it is a passive technology, it is more effective and reliable than using observational security methods to screen a perimeter, because the technology will never miss something the way a human would.

Recognizing Moving Magnetic Signatures

An important point is that the system only works on moving objects. This makes it immune to environmental conflicts such as rebar that would trip up conventional metal detectors and allowing people to be screened quickly and unobtrusively without stopping to divest their possessions as they walk toward a venue – up to 50 or 60 people a minute. FMDS does not need people to be organized into lines or groups; it simply detects a magnetic signature on anything that passes.

It runs on batteries – there is no need for an electricity source, as with a walk-through detector – and can be placed on just about any form factor (a pole, a stand, etc.). This gives security personnel flexibility when deploying FMDS, allowing them to create a wide perimeter around a venue without worrying about portability or a power source. Screening can be as obvious or as concealed as personnel prefer for a particular situation, based on the form factor they select.

FMDS simply gives the opportunity to add a layer of security where there currently is not an effective solution

All of these combine into a solution that creates a way to close a gap in mass screenings at large events, by expanding the secure perimeter and creating a highly accurate way to detect weapons of mass casualty farther away from a critical asset and large crowds. It does not replace screening for smaller items necessarily, and all large venues should use a layered security solution that also deploys tactics like roving security guards, walk-through metal detectors and hand wands. FMDS simply gives the opportunity to add a layer of security where there currently is not an effective solution.

Effective Mass Screening Solution

Pessimists sometimes muse the world is getting more dangerous with each passing year, and that technology is at least partially responsible for both the breadth and depth of the increasingly creative ways bad guys harm people.

But some technologies also are responsible for helping to fight against those threats and make the world safer, and FMDS is one of those. By providing a foolproof method of detecting weapons of mass casualty before terrorists get too close to an event venue, FMDS gives event security personnel a way to better protect large events, making them less dangerous and keeping people safe.

Images source: Metrasens

Download PDF version

Author profile

James Viscardi Vice President, Global Security, Metrasens Ltd

In case you missed it

Ethical Consumption: Should You Buy Security Products ‘Made In China’?
Ethical Consumption: Should You Buy Security Products ‘Made In China’?

Should ‘Made in China’ be seen as a negative in security systems and products? It’s an important and complex issue that merits a more detailed response than my recent comment in the Expert Panel Roundtable. For me, there are two sides of the answer to this question: Buying products that have certain negative attributes that are not in alignment with some part of a belief system or company mandate. Buying products that do not perform as advertised or do something that is unacceptable. For integrators and end users making the buying decisions, the drive to purchase products may not be based on either aspect and instead on the product that can do the best job for their business. But for others, a greater emphasis on the ethical implications of purchasing decisions drives decision-making. What Is Ethical Consumption? Ethical consumption is a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of ‘positive buying’ in that ethical products are favoredEthical consumption — often called ethical consumerism — is a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of ‘positive buying’ in that ethical products are favored, and products that are ethically questionable may be met with a ‘moral boycott’. This can be as simple as only buying organic produce or as complex as boycotting products made in a totalitarian regime that doesn't offer its citizens the same freedoms that we enjoy in the United States. Consider the goals of the Boston Tea Party or the National Consumers League (NCL), which was formed to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. Some examples of considerations behind ethical consumption include fair trade, treatment of workers, genetic modification, locally made and processed goods, union-made products and services, humane animal treatment, and in general, labor issues and manufacturing practices that take these factors into account. Increase In Ethical Consumption The numbers show that ethical consumption is on the rise. In a 2017 study by Unilever, 33 percent of consumers reported choosing to buy and support brands that they believe are doing social or environmental good. In the same study, 53 percent of shoppers in the United Kingdom and 78 percent in the United States said they feel better when they buy products that are ‘sustainably’ produced. There’s clear evidence that products from some Chinese companies suffer from cybersecurity vulnerabilities Though the aforementioned question that sparked this conversation centers around concerns with products made in China, there are many other countries where, for example, governments/dictators are extremely repressive to all or parts of their populations, whose products, such as oil, diamonds, minerals, etc., we happily consume. There are also a number of countries that are a threat in terms of cybersecurity. It may be naive and simplistic to single out Chinese manufacturers. Impact On Physical Security Products Product buying decisions based on factors other than product functionality, quality and price are also starting to permeate the security marketplace. While this hasn't been a large focus area from the business-to-business consumption side, it's something that should be considered for commercial security products for a variety of reasons. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating" There’s clear evidence that products from some Chinese companies suffer from cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Last fall, 30 U.S. companies, including Apple and Amazon, were potentially compromised when it was discovered that a tiny microchip in the motherboard of servers built in China that weren't a part of the original specification. According to a Bloomberg report, “This attack was something graver than the software-based incidents the world has grown accustomed to seeing. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating, promising the kind of long-term, stealth access that spy agencies are willing to invest millions of dollars and many years to get.” This, along with many other incidents, are changing the considerations behind purchasing decisions even in the physical security industry. Given that physical security products in general have been lax on cybersecurity, this is a welcome change. Combating Tech-Specific Threats In early January, members of the U.S. Senate introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors and ensure U.S. technological supremacy by improving interagency coordination across the U.S. government. The bill creates the Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House, an indication that this issue is of critical importance to a number of players across the tech sector. Members of the U.S. Senate introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors To address a significant number of concerns around ethical production, there are certifications such as ISO 26000 which provides guidance on social responsibility by addressing accountability, transparency, ethical behavior, respect for stakeholder interests, respect for rule of law, respect for international norms of behavior and respect for human rights. While still emerging within physical security, companies that adhere to these and other standards do exist in the marketplace. Not Buying Products Vulnerable To Cyberattacks It may be counter-productive, even irresponsible, to brand all products from an entire country as unfit for purchasing. Some manufacturers’ products may be ethically questionable, or more vulnerable to cyberattacks than others; so not buying products made by those companies would make sense. The physical security industry might be playing a bit of catch up on this front, but I think we're beginning to see a shift toward this kind of responsible buying behavior.

Adapting servers for IP video surveillance systems: choosing the right solution
Adapting servers for IP video surveillance systems: choosing the right solution

Choosing the right server for a video surveillance application comes down to one question: What does the customer expect from the system? Is it a retail location with two cameras that only needs video stored for 24 hours? Does the system need failover protection? What are the ramifications if a system goes down? Does business have to stop? How fast does the customer need to have access to video? Is it a regulated industry where immediate access is a requirement? How mission-critical is the video system to operations?  Mission Critical Video Surveillance Solutions Such questions can point video system designers to the right technology for an application, and a manufacturer and reseller with a wide product offering ensure that the perfect solution is available and can be shipped quickly. It’s important to remember that this is not a “one size fits all” marketplace. Questions need to be asked on what an appropriate server solution will provide for the customer 1) JBOD - It stands for "just a bunch of disks" and refers to a collection of hard disks that have not been configured to work together. This approach is typical of stand-alone systems such as a retailer who has one or two cameras recording locally at a remote location, and who have a tolerance for occasionally losing video footage.  2) RAID 5/6 is a redundant array of independent disks in which data is stored across all the disks. The configuration provides more redundancy and reliability, better balance of disk usage, and more throughput and performance. RAID 5/6 is a redundant array of independent disks in which data is stored across all the disks 3) SAN or storage area network is a type of centralized storage providing enhanced accessibility to disk arrays. SAN provides high performance but is not as easy to expand. It is also less expensive than NAS systems.  4) NAS or network-attached storage is another type of centralized data storage. NAS systems are networked appliances containing storage drives. Benefits include faster data access, easier administration and simple configuration. NAS systems are easier to expand than SAN but provide less performance. NAS systems fit well in situations where customers have massive storage needs (or expect to in the future.) These are applications with lots of cameras and a need to retain high-frame-rate video for 180 days or longer. Typical uses include sports arenas, large cities, universities, corporate campuses and airports. Immediate Access To Video Highly available systems, such as SAN or NAS, are needed in any regulated industry. For example, in the cannabis grower market, an end user might need immediate access to video to show a compliance regulator. Gaming is another market in which immediate access to video is critical, and, for example, if a video system goes down at a table game, the gaming has to shut down, which is an expensive prospect to the casino. Therefore, reliability is critical. Video’s benefits beyond safety and security can also help to justify the costs of more expensive system Importance Of Video In Risk Mitigation In some instances, video is used primarily to manage risk, for example in litigation (or to avoid litigation) in a slip-and-fall claim or other court action. This is referred to as Loss Prevention. The ability to save thousands of dollars (or millions) by averting an expensive legal verdict can go a long way toward justifying the costs of systems.  Video’s benefits beyond safety and security, such as for marketing and business analytics, can also help to justify the costs of more expensive systems. Identifying The Right Video Server Equipment Offering a variety of choices, and adapting those systems to specific applications, ensures customer satisfaction “A tradeoff of cost and needed functionality is at the center of decisions when buying server systems for video applications,” says Tom Larson, Chief Technology Officer, BCDVideo. “Identifying specifically what the customer needs from the system, and how important it is to meet those needs, points to the right choice in video server equipment. "Various technologies have advantages and some downsides, and it is the customer’s need for those advantages (and tolerance for the downsides) that determines which server equipment is right for the job.” Offering a variety of choices, and adapting those systems to specific applications, ensures customer satisfaction. The systems builder can help integrators analyze the site and project requirements and translate those into the right equipment and networking choices. What does the customer need and how much are they willing to pay for it? The real determination is “how important is the video?”

How Biometrics, Integration And Cloud Tops The List Of Access Control Trends In 2019
How Biometrics, Integration And Cloud Tops The List Of Access Control Trends In 2019

The access control industry tends to be more conservative when it comes to the adoption of new technology and services for end users, but that doesn't mean that 2019 won't provide a significant amount of progress through emerging trends taking shape in the industry. In addition to the increased adoption and acceptance of the cloud, mobile credentials and biometrics are becoming more mainstream, and integrations between manufacturers will take centre stage. Here, we take a look at these and other trends helping to shape the coming year. Cloud-Based Products We're continuing to see a demand by end-user customers for customized responses to certain actions within an access control system For many access control manufacturers, the core of the business is in more traditional products, with a high percentage of installs continuing to be these kinds of projects. However, over the last couple of years, cloud-based products have emerged as a viable option for customers. We've seen more of a willingness for end-user customers to inquire whether this is an option for them, citing ease of use, remote management, cybersecurity and more as part of their foray into this branch of access control. The cloud has established its reputation as being quicker to install, more flexible for customers to access and manage both their access points as well as the video associated with these doors, and placing less pressure on internal (or in some cases, non-existent) IT teams to help set up and manage an access control system. Mobile Credentials Applications We're continuing to see a demand by end-user customers for customized responses to certain actions within an access control system. For example, if there's an alarm set off during the day along a perimeter, the ability to automatically execute a lockdown and simultaneous email or message to everyone within the building alerting them to the issue is critical. The desire for this kind of flexibility within a system is prompting manufacturers to build new simple to use graphical tools into their systems that allow customized action responses that are proportional to the level of alarm. There's a strong desire by many of today's companies to be able to use mobile phones for access control and as such, manufacturers are either developing their own mobile credentials applications or integrating their systems with these kinds of products. Over the last couple of years, cloud-based products have emerged as a viable option for customers Future Of Biometrics As companies start to ask about whether their facilities are safe enough, they're often more willing to consider access control that takes security to a new level, such as the implementation of biometric readers. Biometrics is getting more usage in professional security applications and many customers want to move away from using physical cards for access control. Manufacturers that don't currently have biometric hardware in place are starting to integrate with readers designed to offer this functionality in an effort to meet the demands of customers. The dramatic rise in facial recognition biometrics is something that will likely shape the future of biometrics as costs start to decrease. While the access control industry is highly fragmented, we're seeing a trend toward increased partnerships and open-platform technology that helps end users achieve the kind of comprehensive security that they desire. Video Management Platforms We're seeing a trend toward increased partnerships and open-platform technology that helps end users achieve the kind of comprehensive security that they desire For example, there are a number of access control providers that are providing paths toward full integration with lock manufacturers and vice versa in an effort to meet the needs of clients who may have purchased locks but a high powered access control system to properly manage them. There's also a large shift toward full integration with video management platforms and access control systems to fully integrate the two into a single, user-friendly experience and give end users more control over both. Additionally, manufacturers are looking to provide customers with a single system that meets the needs they have with regards to video, intrusion and access control. Right now, I don't think there's a system that can fully deliver on the promise of being exceptional at all three, so integrations and partnerships remain important to achieve that end goal. Access Control World An increasing number of end users are realising the holes in the current Wiegand protocols that have been in place since the 1980s, along with the large number of ‘off the shelf’ equipment that's now available to allow outsiders access through readers that operate under these protocols. As a result, in the last decade or so, OSDP has come onto the scene and is growing in popularity. One of the most important steps for access control manufacturers in 2019 will be to listen to customers who are concerned with this vulnerability and work toward fully supporting OSDP in an effort to protect these access control systems. It's an exciting time to be a part of the access control world, as we finally see results from all of the hype centred around the cloud, biometrics, mobile credentials, hacking protection and strong partnerships come to fruition. As 2019 begins, look for these trends to grow in popularity and for manufacturers to really listen to the end-user customer they serve and respond in kind.