safety-and-security-at-events

 

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Introduction

The world can be a pretty scary place. As an event organizer or manager you're faced with the fact that with every event you hold; there is always the possibility of weather, power outage, emergency or injury among so many other potential dangers and risks. It's overwhelming! To add another layer of stress  despite safety being first and foremost, physical safety isn't the only danger to attendees that you need to worry about. There is also the element of digital data protection and keeping personal information safe from the hands of cybercriminals. While the risks will always be out there, there are some key ways that you can rest easier leading up to and during your events. This roadmap aims to walk through all of the preparations you need to:

  • Create a physically safe environment for attendees 
  • Defend attendee personal data and security
  • Ensure a safe and secure mobile app experience for attendees

The following sections go into more depth about considerations, and action items you might take to better your events' safety and security.

 

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Physical Safety 

For your event to succeed — both in the short term and year after year — attendees' physical safety takes top priority. At first glance this seems simple enough: Account for common threats and risks and the issue should sort itself out, right? Not quite. Every venue is different, every crowd is different and every event plays out differently depending on a host of factors including weather, popularity, cost, and attendee expectation. As the event organizer, you are expecting the best outcomes for your events but you must also be prepared and have a plan for worst-case scenarios. Using established safety and security best practices you can create the ideal physical strategy for your event.

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Let's get started with a few action items:

1. Evaluate Venue Safety Processes

As noted by Event Marketer, the right venue is critical to attendee safety. Why? Because not all venues are equal when it comes to security. First, assess the event space for ease-of-access: 

  • Are there enough doors to handle the number of people you anticipate? 
  • Are emergency exits clearly marked and easily accessible? 
  • Is the space open and easy to navigate, or cramped and confusing? 
  • Can the venue provide you with an emergency exit plan or other safety documentation?

It's also worth speaking to venue staff and management and asking how they manage security and emergency procedures with their staff. Look for a business that's willing to communicate its safety procedures and expectations with attendees as a matter of course, not an afterthought.

2. Assess Risks 

Next, assess risk potential in order of likelihood and importance. Here's an example: Your event is planned for the spring, features a local celebrity and is happening on the same weekend as several other festivals and sporting events. So, your risk assessment list might look like this:

  • 1) Crowd concerns — Well-known hosts and presenters can draw larger crowds which increase the risk of physical altercations or trampling risk if there's an emergency.
  • 2) Flooding issues  — Spring weather is unpredictable, meaning you need a flood mitigation plan in place if you're hit with rainstorms. Power outages are also a concern.
  • 3) Traffic problems — With other events going on nearby, parking and traffic could be issues for your attendees. How many access routes are available? How many parking stalls? What about public transit?

By considering likely risks and potential consequences, you can draft a risk-priority list to inform your event strategy. It's always smart to have action plans in place for navigating likely issues.  

3. Create a Plan 

Maximizing attendee safety means mapping out what's going to happen, how and when. For example, do you need to move attendees from one location to another during the course of the day? Plan out this transition. Decide what time the transition should start, what type (and how many) notifications you'll give attendees and then map out the transition route — even if it's just down the hall.

poor-planning

Here's why: The enemy of great event safety is poor planning. When event staff doesn't know what's going to happen next or what they're expected to do, they're prone to make mistakes or overlook more serious security issues. Your best bet? Draft action plans which give event staff the details and direction they need to make informed choices and help attendees stay safe. For emergencies such as fires, floods, power outages and storms the CDC has a solid catch-all plan, while the DHS offers a good starting point for an active emergency situation planning.

4. Document Contingency Plans

Always document your contingency plan and make it available to all event staff. Key aspects of a contingency plan include:

  • What's supposed to happen — A brief overview of how your event should run if no issues arise.
  • Specific problems and remedies — For example: What happens if the room or venue you've booked is suddenly unavailable? List backups starting with those coordinated by the event venue and other alternate locations as needed.
  • Strategies for dealing with attendees — Your contingency plan should include suggestions for event staff to help limit frustration or ensure that attendee frustrations are effectively dealt with by management instead of front-line staff.

In addition, create a chain of command. All event staff must know who's in charge and who they need to talk to if something goes wrong. This is critical in emergencies — assigning staff specific roles and giving them a reliable contact point reduces their overall stress levels and helps them make better decisions.

5) Execute Your Plan

What's your day-of event plan? You need one that covers the specifics: 

  • Event access
  • Check-in process
  • Handling of VIP/Priority/General ticket holders
  • Availability of food and water both on-site and directions to off-site locations
  • Indoor temperature: Are heating/cooling systems working?
  • Traffic flow
  • Accessible bathrooms 
  • Signage
  • First aid and fire prevention
  • Maps, including both event-specific layouts and emergency exits

In addition, make sure you've got at least one backup for everything on your list. Is one entrance door broken? There's another around the corner. Is the bathroom out of order? Have a few portable toilets on site. Did a rainstorm flood the parking lot? Have a secondary lot set aside for attendees.

Physical Safety at Events Resources

For more resources on Physical safety at Events here are some fantastic resources to familiarize yourself with:

 

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Data Protection

In addition to ensuring a safe physical space for attendees, event organizers must also account for data security during events. Not sure where to begin? We've got you covered.

Laws and Regulations

As the digital footprint of events has grown, so have the regulations that govern data protection in many regions of the world. It's critical to understand some of the broad legislation around data collection and use. 

Data usage laws may differ from region to region, for example, the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR (May 2018) regulates how residents of EU countries' data must be managed globally. For US-based companies, there are a number of FTC regulations on marketing communications you'll want to abide by, and the list goes on. 

If you are running a global events program then it's best to read up on all applicable regulations and ask your legal team what you are required to comply with. Just like every other industry a key to information security and integrity is a commitment to continuous improvement, technology upgrades, and vigilance. As an event manager, and marketer, be proactive with your programs. 

personal-data

What is Personal Data?

The term "personal data" or personally identifiable information (PII) means information that identifies you, as, well... you! For example your name, date of birth, job title, or email address. These are all pieces of information that are personal to you. Under GDPR (The General Data Protection Regulation) in the EU this definition also extends to your IP address, which is why you'll notice a heavier commitment to "cookie consent" banners across the web. 

For event programs, you'll need to create a data-handling process that evaluates potential vendors and describes what type of data will be collected, for what purpose, and how it will be used for your event marketing. This extends to collections of personal data within:

  • Your event app (ie. DoubleDutch)
  • Your registration software (ie. DoubleDutch registration)
  • Your CRM  (ie. Salesforce)
  • Your Marketing automation platform (ie. HubSpot or Marketo)
  • Your marketing measurement channels (ie. Google Analytics or Adwords)

Consent and Collection of Personal Data

Remember that consent is key to collecting personal data in compliance with many regional regulatory standards such as GDPR. Not only is it mandatory under regulation, but consent creates a more trusted brand. 

Imagine this scenario: you attended an event last year. At that time you provided your email in order to get your ticket confirmation, but you never consented to further marketing efforts and you never engaged with other marketing assets from the organization. This year you start to receive a number of emails about a different event the organization is holding. It's not relevant to you, it's not interesting to you, so what do you do?

We bet you unsubscribe.

Lack of consent is invasive; it's not effective for marketers to market to contacts who have not explicitly consented to be marketed to, and now in many cases, may also not be legal. 

marketing-data-consent (1)

Proper Consent Under GDPR

If you're unsure if your event program or organization is applying proper data collection and consent methods the first thing you should do is consult your legal team. Discuss consent in regard to:

  • Web forms such as your registration site's sign-up form to ensure compliance
  • Cookie tracking and gaining consent to track cookies for marketing purposes
  • Email lists already in existence to gauge whether they are marketable 

This section could be an entire book on its own; your safest actions are to talk to your legal team considering all of your event marketing activities. 

What to Talk to Legal About

This guide alone can't possibly prepare you for the regulatory environment that marketers live in today. We always encourage our customers to collaborate with legal when implementing their event programs. If you have legal counsel available at your organization make sure to talk to them about:

  • How personal data for your events is collected and managed to ensure it is in accordance with laws that pertain to your program
  • How appropriate consent should be enabled to support how you use personal data for marketing purposes, measurement, or other marketing activities

Bring a list of all data processors that your event team works with (apps, software, etc) and talk through each process individually for the most thorough review of your efforts.

For resources on GDPR, and other data regulations check out these resources:

 

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Mobile Apps: Safety & Security

Users expect their personal data and information to be safeguarded by those they trust it with. In fact, according to a survey conducted by IBM cybersecurity is second only to quality in what people look for when making purchasing decisions. So, what can you do to help lessen the risk for your event program when providing an event app to attendees? 

Protect Passwords

Password protection remains the number one best practice for any data security protocol. Yet, there continue to be too many stories about lax passwords and the ease with which hackers bypass them. According to a statistic found in Verizon's 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report over 80% of all breaches are the result of inadequate passwords.  And so, the first and simplest security processes you can immediately improve is your password protocols for your event app. 

increase-password-security

Here are 3 ways you can improve your password policy: 

  1. Develop policies that advocate strong passwords that are changed at regular intervals for your employees, and require event attendees to create strong passwords for access to their personal information. Strong passwords are defined as those with a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.
  2. Initiate two-factor authentication for devices at your organization for the most sensitive data.  This is usually in the form of answering security questions or receiving an email or mobile message with a verification code.  
  3. Limit attempts. Cyber thieves use technology to try to guess passwords. A way to thwart their efforts is to provide “lockouts” after a number of attempts.  

Once your employee and attendees' passwords are strengthened there are a number of other elements to consider keeping the hackers out of your system.

Evaluate the systems you already have in place    

Your organization likely already has data security practices in place for other software and tech providers, discuss them with your IT department and legal teams to determine how to implement your event programs and technology within those policies. 

While talking to internal stakeholders:

  • Review best practices on data availability for your event attendees including who, what, why, and how their data should be processed and managed within your event tech stack. Make sure that proper policies exist with all of your vendors and 3rd party integrations, like your event app provider, to ensure privacy and security. 
  • Discuss implementing regular back-ups, use of encryption, and timely software updates for your event tech. Many of these tasks take time away from regular work and, too often, are inadequately done.  
  • Evaluate access and data privileges of not just your organization but of all data processors, to judge whether they meet standards of your region and regulations. Your IT and legal teams are your biggest assets in helping you determine what the right event tech provider is, and what the best possible data management policies are.

app-essential-safety

Facilitate Security in App

An app for your event program is essential for many reasons in regard to attendee engagement. But, it can also prove useful when it comes to creating a communication or contingency plan for your event. There are a number of ways that an event app makes for a more safe and secure environment at your events. 

safety-check-in

Some ideas on how to promote safety and security using your mobile app & features: 

  • Make it just as easy for attendees to safeguard their contact information as it is to share it. Attendees should be able to elect to keep their contact information private. When choosing an event tech vendor make sure that they have the functionality to hide attendees from the attendee list completely if required.
  • Clearly communicate privacy policy and data usage policies to attendees with in-app privacy policy consent. 
  • Use push notifications to communicate changes to the schedule, venue announcements, or safety announcements. Attendees often have access to their mobile device throughout an event, so it's a must-have communication feature to be able to push messages to them there.
  • Create digital processes around how an attendee should notify organizers that they are safe in case of emergency. We call this feature Safety Check.
  • Create a code of conduct content section within your app, so that attendees understand the expectations for behavior at your event, the policies of the venue, and contact information of who they should reach out to if an issue were to arise. 

More Resources on Mobile App Security:

If you want to learn more about security considerations specific to the mobile app industry there are a few resources you might want to look into.  Some of those resources are listed here:

 

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Conclusion

Safety and security apply to both physical and digital worlds and their importance for event management, venue management, and event technology is ever-growing. Protecting attendees' physical wellbeing is key, but also keeping their digital assets and personal data secure should be a priority for your event program. 

event-security-future

The most sophisticated event programs are looking at a future where major changes are needed within their business model and their event model to support the need for security and safety. Luckily, event technology helps to facilitate these changing tides in the industry and provide practical solutions for organizers. 

At DoubleDutch, our commitment to safety and security has never wavered. If you'd like to talk more about event technology that enables safer, more secure programs, then let's talk.    

The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. DoubleDutch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information on this site is provided "as is." In no event will DoubleDutch or its employees be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information on this site. Certain links on this site connect to other websites maintained by third parties over whom DoubleDutch has no control. DoubleDutch makes no representations as to the accuracy or any other aspect of information contained in other websites.
 
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