It costs about $10 million to secure a city for the Super Bowl, the NFL estimates. Indianapolis reportedly spent $7 million and pulled in 3,000 additional law enforcement personnel to keep the influx of 150,000 people safe for the Super Bowl in 2012. With stakes this high, risk managers need to bring their A-games to events like these, just as much as the players do.
But for any event no matter what the size, venue owners and event organizers themselves also inherit a “duty of care” to provide “reasonable” protection to people in attendance.
Start Planning Early
Protecting fans or attendees requires a significant amount of security pre-planning. For designated National Special Security Events (NSSE) such as the Super Bowl, Olympic games, and major political gatherings, pre-planning may begin two to three years prior and involve coordination with the U.S. Secret Service.
For less “super” events, like a convention or a marathon race, we usually recommend starting security planning 6-12 months in advance.
Identify and Pull in Security Partners
The first step is to identify key resource partners who can provide assistance in securing all facets of event day public safety. These partners include
- Fire departments
- Emergency medical services
- Public works
- Multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, such as DHS, Secret Service, FBI, League or Organization Security Representatives
Training internal stakeholders such as event day staff and volunteers is equally important. They will often be your “first responders” immediately after a critical incident occurs, providing direction, relief, and comfort until emergency services personnel can respond to the scene.
A host of very real and quite legitimate security-related risks can impact events large or small:
- Harm to persons
- Damage to property
- Loss of revenue
- Increased liability due to negligence
- Loss of reputation/damage to your brand or sponsor image
From fan violence, to protestors, to fire and robbery, to acts of terror, there are a variety of risks that should be considered during special events.
The 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, for example, resulted in 3 million dollars in additional costs to the City of Seattle due to the activities of protesters as well as the damages to the city’s image of unpreparedness and mishandling of the event.
The 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park bombing, killing 2 and injuring 111 others, brought into question whether the Atlanta Olympic Games itself should continue—which if cancelled could have created devastating losses both personally and financially to athletes and businesses.
Prevent Likely Events
While it is impossible to predict or prevent every potential risk during super events, it is to best prepare for those forms of security risk that are most likely or probable. Likely events would include medical emergencies, individual acts of violence, unauthorized access, etc.
Other public safety emergencies are less likely or low frequency but would have high impact—catastrophic situations like fire, flooding, an active shooter, natural disasters bombings or other acts of terrorism. For these, planning, preparation, practice and response is paramount. It is in the planning and preparation stages where you actively reduce your vulnerability to more severe risk exposures or losses.
Fans Expect Security
The post-9/11 fans of today are far more sophisticated than they were 10 years ago. They come to game, concert, or convention hall with high expectations. They expect to be provided with adequate safety and security, and they are also willing to assist in the process of making their experience more secure and more enjoyable.
Bottom line, be prepared! It is imperative that key personnel responsible for security operations at special events thoroughly consider their event day risks and are familiar with risk assessment methods, risk planning, training, and improving physical protection measures, emergency response, and relationship building. Our capacity to do so provides the exciting atmosphere for our fans and attendees to create long lasting memorable experiences with their families and friends that they will cherish for a life time.