Three Ways to Boost Conference Security

Conference security remains a priority for planners and attendees, and new technologies are being introduced to meet their needs. Here's a look at three tools worth checking out.

It’s not surprising that security is top of mind for both meeting planners and attendees.

According to “A View From Meeting Planners: Winning Strategies in Destination Marketing,” a recent report by Development Counsellors International, 55 percent of meeting planners surveyed said that dealing with safety and security caused them more stress than any other issue. Meanwhile, the Global Business Travel Association’s “Risk on the Road” report showed that 45 percent of business travelers view terrorism as the greatest safety risk they face on the road.

That’s why associations and conference venues are devoting more attention to their safety and security strategy. And according to Bob Mellinger, founder and CEO of the business-continuity firm Attainium Corp., they seem to have “a greater awareness that things could happen.”

With that in mind, here are three recent security-related tools and technologies worth keeping an eye on:

Weapons screening technology. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre is set to test radar-imaging technology, which is coupled with artificial intelligence software, that finds security threats before they reach a meeting facility’s entrance, according to a MeetingsNet article. For two weeks in late 2019, tens of thousands of convention, exhibition, and exposition attendees will unknowingly be part of a test of HEXWAVE, a system that can detect and identify weapons carried under clothes or in bags. From an elevated position, security teams can scan people around the property without disrupting foot traffic approaching entrances. In other words: effective security without a huge line.

Risk-management app. The American Pharmacists Association always had a well-thought-out risk-management process for its events. But for its 2018 Joint Federal Pharmacy Summit, it decided to try a new app called Event-Aware, which would give APhA staff access to its emergency procedures 24/7 on their smartphones. The app, which also works offline, takes users to customized information from buttons on the home screen, such as

  • contact lists for company staff, venue staff, and others
  • predetermined response procedures for incidents, including power outages, medical emergencies, fires, missing attendees, violent crime, and weather emergencies
  • addresses and contact information of the nearest hospitals and pharmacies
  • the evacuation plan for the venue.

On top of that, users have access to a “Secure Chat,” intended for emergency situations if someone needs to let the group know their status, as well as a “Report an Incident” feature, which makes it easy for staff to submit reports.

RFID wristbands. While associations like the American Society for Radiologic Technologists are already using RFID to track attendance in sessions so that attendees can earn continuing-education credits, others are starting to use the bracelets to boost safety and security. For example, Kaleidoscope Festival 2019 used Tappit’s safety functionality to allow attendees to upload emergency contact information onto their wristbands.

“In the instance that someone gets separated from their group of friends … all they need to do is locate a clearly marked information point within the site and place their wristband to a reader for staff to see the contact information,” according to a press release. “The wristband also assists in first aid and emergency help as attendees can be identified if they’re unresponsive, and relevant people can be contacted.”

What new steps or technology is your association implementing to improve its conference security efforts? Tell us in the comments.

(iunderhill/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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