Best Practices for College Event Security

April 06, 2022

Large-scale public events, such as college football and basketball games, have been deemed high-risk by security professionals since 2008, when the FBI and Department of Homeland Security asserted that terrorists could potentially target stadiums and arenas. U.S. federal authorities said it was only a matter of time until we would begin to see attacks in these settings. We have since seen highly publicized active shooter scenarios, bombings, and vehicle attacks on public events, such as marathon races, parades, sporting events, political rallies, and other gatherings.

Universities and colleges regularly invite the public onto campuses to large-scale events. These events pose a challenge for campus security professionals. The perimeter security of a larger scale event is particularly porous, and security coverage is often limited, allowing malicious actors to infiltrate the perimeter to cause harm. In addition, the larger and more open the event is, the more difficult it is to secure and protect.

The variety of possible types of attacks at public venues makes preparing for these scenarios problematic. Whether attacks are an organized attempt at terrorism or a solitary action scenario, they can take many forms.

 

Hardening the Event as a Target

Whether your school’s event attracts hundreds or thousands, you must add security personnel and plan to accommodate the need. Security should be considered in the planning stages for such an event to include emergency services. Having adequate coverage of trained professionals to cover your event sends a message to potential perpetrators that your event is not an easy target. The presence of overt security at your event can also convey to your guests that they are in a safe environment.

Some key considerations and best practices for public events include:

  • An up-to-date emergency operations plan (EOP) prepares and provides for sound policy and procedures in the case of an emergency.
  • The EOP should include planning for disasters, threats, mass evacuations, event maps, emergency rally points, and command center locations.
  • Optimal event coverage includes overt and covert trained security and law enforcement. Staff screening and criminal background checks will help head off internal problems early.
  • An established security perimeter with easily recognizable entry/exit points can go a long way in meeting security needs.
  • Temporary fencing and barricades can help with crowd and traffic management.
  • Policies can help to avert problems at the point of entry. Establish procedures for the following:
    • Bag and Package Search 
    • In/out Return Procedures for Patrons 
    • Posted Conduct Rules  
  • Security communication equipment procedures help your security team maintain operational contact when an incident occurs.
  • Public address and mass notification systems help communicate vital information to people in an emergency.
  • Situational awareness and the alertness of your staff can mean the difference between a successful and an averted attack.
  • When a school campus is open for a public event, the security team should take special care to restrict sensitive areas of campus from public access.
  • Treat suspicious packages and activity as a worst-case scenario in the large-scale event setting.
Event Space Clutter

Jack Hanagriff is the program manager for the Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Because he has firsthand experience with security planning for public events, Hanagriff is an advocate of video surveillance to aid in live crowd monitoring.

Hanagriff says, “The environment changes. No longer is a green space open. It's cluttered with buildings, banners, balloons, and everything that comes with the festival. We discovered that we needed to have the visual observation of certain areas that we no longer had because they were now blocked by a stage, some banner, or some other promotional obstacle. So we were finding that our legacy system was proven and helpful in most events, was not adequate because we needed a temporary system that you would put up and could be fluid with the event.”

 

Scaling Video Technology with the Event in Mind

Milestone Systems works with higher education institutions worldwide to provide and deploy effective security solutions alongside their integration and development partners.

As a result, Milestone’s XProtect® VMS is an open platform solution that is flexible and reliable in meeting the requirements of any event. With scalability that works with your existing surveillance infrastructure and the ability to expand to meet the needs of even the largest multisite event, XProtect provides the tools that your event deserves to protect your guests.

Video surveillance has moved beyond an outdated black and white camera with a fuzzy picture and no detail. Instead, modern IP camera technology produces megapixel resolution video images, and XProtect can analyze terabytes of video from hundreds or thousands of network-attached cameras. In addition, advanced search tools can lead your security team to precisely the incident they need to review.

XProtect Rapid REVIEW, powered by video content analytics platform BriefCam, uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning to create searchable footage that recognizes and extracts objects. So whether it’s counting cars, people, backpacks, or line crossing, operators can use XProtect Rapid REVIEW to create a customizable search and report results, sometimes in just minutes.

Today’s VMS systems can integrate with your entry access points to improve security procedures linked with video intercom and existing access control systems. Furthermore, XProtect Access is a Milestone product that makes managing large installations easy and provides customizable alerts. For example, suppose a person triggers an access point in a sensitive area or props open a door. In that case, operators could be notified and see live streaming video from a nearby camera.

Advanced Detection Using Artificial Intelligence

With assistance from partner technology, XProtect open platform can display alerts and associated video events in real-time when a weapon is detected. This proactive feature can trigger automated actions, including notifying monitoring personnel, initiating lockdown protocols, and sending real-time alerts to police dispatch for emergency response.

Milestone also partners with manufacturers who provide tools that detect the sound of a gunshot or identify a muzzle flash on video. In addition, some of this technology can triangulate gunshot detection from multiple sensors and pinpoint the location of the weapon fired. Furthermore, the software rules engine can automatically alert security, helping to reduce response times.

Aggression detection is a necessary video analytic in areas where the public interacts. For example, audio sensors can monitor sound while listening for raised voices, shouting, or keywords from passersby. An alert notifies monitoring personnel when aggression occurs. As a result, security teams can initiate a proactive response. Some sensors can pick up key phrases, such as “Call 9-1-1” or “Help.” In addition, the audio analytics can tag video associated with the audio, triggering the notification to operators.

College event security is a big challenge for campuses everywhere. The single best practice for those who are planning a large-scale event is to plan early and thoroughly for the event. A comprehensive emergency plan and collaboration with a planning team will prepare your campus before an incident occurs. Milestone has the expertise and the technology to help your security team be better prepared and ready to respond when an incident happens on your campus.

About Milestone Systems:

Milestone Systems is a leading provider of open platform video management software; technology that helps the world see how to ensure safety, protect assets and increase business efficiency. Milestone enables an open platform community that drives collaboration and innovation in the development and use of network video technology, with reliable and scalable solutions that are proven in more than 500,000 customer sites worldwide. Founded in 1998, Milestone is a stand-alone company in the Canon Group. For more on information on education solutions visit this page.