Safety and Security are an ever increasing worry/focus for event planners and attendees alike. That’s why we at tmf dialogue have gathered some top tips for you to keep in mind before and during an event.
The first thing to realize is that a security/safety plan should be proactive in nature, never reactive. This means having a general structured plan for every possible threat or mishap that could take place during the event. Of course, some things can pop up that were not expected or planned for. If that is the case make sure to note the situation as well as the solution and add it to the plan for next time.
Before the event
When creating a proactive plan, make sure it starts at venue selection. During a site inspection, meet with the provided security staff to see what kind of safety measures are already put in place – although, many planners recommend additionally hiring your own staff, as general venue security is only responsible for the venue as a whole and may not be able to give as much attention to your event individually. Also during the site inspection, check things like fire exits and fire extinguishers to make sure nothing is blocked, expired or broken.
Also when in the venue selection stage, inform yourself and your team about the surrounding area. Although the venue seems perfect – will your guests feel at ease if they are travelling or spending time outside of the venue? Have a meeting with all involved personnel at least three months before the event to discuss everything and discover any kind of hiccups in emergency planning. Also conduct a risk assessment. Are there any hot topics going to be discussed at the event? Is there any backlash from the local community or rival organizations and groups to be expected? Note that the presence and size of the media will have a drastic impact on how big the security detail should be for the event. Furthermore, consider what the plan is should the event get shut down or cancelled for various reasons. Will the attendees’ costs be reimbursed?
During the event
The most important thing to do during this time is to work with the venue itself, cooperation is the key. Verify local emergency contacts in the area like police as well as close by police stations and hospitals. Confirm they are aware of any private security and know how to work alongside them.
During registration, check all IDs. This is not only for physical security by protecting attendees from potentially harmful people but also protects the reputation of your company and of the event. It has happened before that rival or opposing individuals sneak into the event under a false name and attempt to ruin the event. In regards to rivals or opposing groups, monitor the news and social media for any threats or hateful language against the event – it could be a sign of danger and in that case security should be notified.
Provide attendees with a list of emergency contacts as well as locations of police, hospitals and other nearby emergency services you found during the previous phase.
In terms of digital security and protecting sensitive information, there are many steps you can take to assure no leaks or stolen information. The most basic is to keep all doors to rooms with data locked when not in use. All electronics with recording capabilities like iPhones or traditional recorders should be given up at the door and kept in a safe place until after discussions come to a close.
NO USB sticks! This means all presentations need to be submitted in advance and placed on an encrypted master computer already screened for viruses or bugs. This secures that no one is able to upload any harmful data to the computers and possibly cost the loss of all data.
And last but not least, tell attendees not to use public wifi, even during their free time – especially if they have used their phone at all to discuss any information pertaining to the event.
After the event
Directly following the event, meet with your team once more to have a sort of security review. What were the best actions taken during that event and what can be improved upon the next time around? Make sure to amend the general security plan as necessary.