EAY 2018: Protecting the events sector
“Many years ago, security for concerts and music events was quite simple,” reflects Reg Walker, director of Iridium Consultancy, which works with a number of UK venues and festivals. “It was either, ‘Yes, you can come in’, ‘No, you can’t come in’, or, ‘Sorry, you’re misbehaving, you’ll have to leave’. That was effectively it.
“If you fast-forward to now, security staff are expected to be cognisant in crowd safety and crowd management. Be able to secure evidence. Be welfare officers. We expect them to take part in counterterrorism security measures, be search experts, first aiders, carry out drug detection and deal with organised crime groups and pick pockets. The list goes on and on. The demands on security staff, and their roles, have changed so dramatically that they’re almost unrecognisable from what they were 20 or 30 years ago.”
Driving those changes has been a constant and ongoing focus on improving crowd safety and, in turn, the customer experience. Top of the agenda for many security professionals today is combating the heightened threat of terrorism – a historic danger that became tragic reality following the Bataclan and Paris attacks of 2015, and last year’s Manchester Arena bombing, which killed 22 people, many of them children, and injured hundreds more.
“In the last 12 months, there’s been a massive improvement in standards, with a total revision of how live music venues and sporting venues – or basically, any crowded space – are secured,” says Walker. He cites a “mass uplift in the training of staff and personnel,” extra police patrols, and infrastructural modifications to deter vehicle attacks, as just some of the ways that the sector has adapted and modified to meet the threat.
The demands from touring artists and productions have similarly increased, says Eventsec’s Andrew Murphy, who looks after security at Belfast’s 11,000-capacity Odyssey Arena. “Certainly, since what happened in Manchester there’s been a big surge from touring artists for increased security precautions, extra searches and backstage sweeps taking place,” he explains.
“The demands on security staff have changed so dramatically they’re almost unrecognisable from 20 or 30 years ago”
Costs and the number of security staff employed at the arena have increased as a result, he says, although in his venue’s case the impact has been moderate. “Coming from Belfast, where we’ve had these issues for many years, we’ve always been mindful that the threat exists, and have always had a high level of security at our venues. In light of what happened [in Manchester], we reviewed our security procedures and we continue to constantly review and change things, so that we’re not predictable and make it difficult for someone who has the intention to cause harm.”
“The Manchester attack was a big wake-up call for how we should view events, but what we have tended to do in the past is throw out our carefully prepared plans, [and] it is often not the plans that are wrong. It is just that areas need constant review to make them fit for purpose as threats change,” advises security professional Chris Kemp of Mind Over Matter Consultancy. He advocates a “measured and proportionate” approach that continually evaluates weaknesses and adapts to meet the threat, “so that it destabilises the aggressor and enables us to continue to think carefully about how we make our venues and events as secure as possible during a time of changing terrorist attack methodologies.
“After Bataclan and Manchester, security became very high on the agenda but if we relegate other elements that are just as important, such as crowd management, we are only shifting the problem and not tackling it,” he warns.
“What we’re getting better at is identifying what to do before, during and after an attack. But we all know that it’s not if, but when and where, the next attack will take place.”
EAY 2018: 10 tech tips for arena bosses
Arena concert productions have become increasingly spectacular in recent years, but that is not where the use of cutting-edge technology in arenas need end – an array of remarkable tech solutions has been created that can not only enhance the concertgoing experience for fans, but can drive revenue, increase security and minimise the environmental footprint for venue operators.
1. Mercedes-Benz Arena goes green
The 17,000-cap. Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin has taken a series of innovative measures to ensure that it is one of the most environmentally friendly venues in the world.
As part of AEG’s environmental sustainability programme, AEG 1Earth, the venue recently began purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset 100% of the carbon emissions associated with its purchases of electric power. The arena’s energy is sourced through hydroelectric plants in northern Europe and is certified with the RenewablePLUS label issued by the strict TÜV Rheinland certification programme.
A block-heating power plant installed on the roof of the arena generates energy from natural gas and captures waste heat for use in the arena, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions caused by natural gas consumption are offset with ÖkoPLUS credits to support a hydroelectricity project in Malana, India.
Other measures include providing parking space for 400 cycles, biodegradable cups made from cornstarch and food sourced from local or regional producers.
The venue’s general manager, Michael Hapka, says that in partnership with energy supplier GASAG, the arena has found a way to be carbon neutral without increasing energy costs. “It was a very big step forward to 100% neutralise the carbon footprint of the arena, which we achieved in January. We don’t advertise it to the public but we have noticed that artists have taken a real interest in the environmental efficiency of the arena.”
“Artists have taken a real interest in the environmental efficiency of the arena”
Launched in 2014 by CEO Adam Goodyer, LiveStyled specialises in creating mobile apps and interactive technology designed to enhance the experience of concertgoers while boosting revenue for venue operators. “Our vision is to be the glue that binds the physical and digital concertgoing experience together,” says Goodyer.
Among the core digital functionality offered by LiveStyled, which can be embedded in a white-label app, a venue’s website or its Facebook pages, are access control and loyalty rewards, through to helping customers navigate their way around an arena. “It not only enables users to pre-order and quickly collect food and beverages – they can also easily digitally share tickets they have purchased with friends, which we are then able to pick up the data about their friendship group,” says Goodyer.
LiveStyled’s many clients include AEG, O2 and Live Nation, with the technology currently being used at 55 venues around the world, including London’s O2 Arena and SSE Arena Belfast. It also recently signed a three-year deal with AEG’s promotion division, AEG Presents, starting with All Points East and British Summer Time festivals.
Goodyer says the results speak for themselves: “It was used to run a promotion at the SSE Arena Belfast, where users were encouraged to spend more on food and beverages by being rewarded with a small digital wallet credit. That small incentive to encourage them to spend a little more resulted in a 16% increased in overall food and beverage expenditure in the arena.”
The LiveStyled boss says the next step for the technology is its integration into venue IPTV systems so that content can be personalised on every single screen around a building to reflect the known interests and tastes of the individuals gathered near each of them.
“Our vision is to be the glue that binds the physical and digital concertgoing experience together”
Award-winning British company Kino-mo, which is backed by investors including Richard Branson and Mark Cuban, has launched an innovative advertising solution that generates 3D images that appear to float in mid-air.
The system’s 3D images can not only be used to promote upcoming shows, food and beverage product lines or to draw attention to a retail outlet, but can be used by artists during a show as on-stage visuals.
The Hypervsn product, which is able to produce 3D holographic advertising visuals of up to three metres high, is made up of multiple modular units that look like propellers, with each of the arms containing programmable LEDs. The unit’s processor sends signals to each of the LEDs and instructs them when to turn on and off. As the lights change, the whole device spins and the eye perceives the light emitted as a hologram, much like those featured in the film Blade Runner 2049.
Kino-mo can create custom 3D content for clients but also offers a content creation tool that enables them to transform their existing 2D assets into 3D visuals suitable for Hypervsn. Images or videos can be uploaded and displayed using a cloud-based management platform.
Designed for commercial use at sites such as entertainment venues and retail outlets, the system is simple to install and relocate, with accessories available that make it possible to mount devices to ceilings, walls and shelves.
Kino-mo caused a major stir in January when it launched Hypervsn at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and an equally warm reception when it was showcased at ILMC in London. Among the brands already using Hypervsn are Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Pernod Ricard.
“Hypervsn has already proven itself to be a powerful technological solution to create immersive experiences, drive advocacy, and articulate the value of a brand,” says Kino-mo co-founder Kiryl Chykeyuk.
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