Physical Security for Large Venues: Where Narrative Intelligence Comes In
It’s probably safe to assume that a sizable portion of the people reading this haven’t been to the movies since early 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering the vast majority of large venues, most people have not been in congregate settings for a year or more.
Now, with business reopenings approaching pre-pandemic levels, all of that is rapidly changing. Sports stadiums are at, or approaching, full capacity. Concerts are back. Airports, train stations, and bus terminals are filling up.
Since the last time these places were all fully open, though, things have changed. The world has seen myriad cases of online narratives leading to physical threats and incidents, from arson attacks on 5G cell towers driven by narratives about COVID-19 to harassment of employees of a company that had been pulled into election-fraud narratives. If large venues aren’t taking steps to get ahead of narratives that could impact them as part of their reopening, they could be opening themselves up to the risk of physical security issues.
“If large venues aren’t taking steps to get ahead of narratives that could impact them as part of their reopening, they could be opening themselves up to the risk of physical security issues.”
Here are some scenarios large venues should be thinking about, and examples of what could happen if those scenarios aren’t brought under control.
Read our new guide to learn more about narrative intelligence for risk management.
What physical security risks do large venues face?
The pandemic, one could argue, reduced or eliminated the physical security risks large venues faced simply by emptying them of crowds. But as those crowds return, so do a multitude of risk scenarios venues should be ready for.
Here are just a couple of them:
New threats, born of the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has given birth to new trends and social phenomena that simply didn’t exist the last time many large venues were fully open. What happens, for example, when people who don’t want to wear masks encounter a mask requirement at a crowded concert hall? Or when an attack against an ethnic minority – an incident which, sadly, has spiked in frequency in the wake of anti-Chinese rhetoric related to the pandemic – occurs in a packed sports stadium? The presence of dense crowds make incidents like these all the more volatile for the people in attendance, and for the venues in which they occur.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has given birth to new trends and social phenomena that simply didn’t exist the last time many large venues were fully open.”
Executive, worker, and visitor protection
The threats that these tensions pose to individuals’ physical safety don’t just apply to paying visitors of large venues. The safety of performing acts, visiting teams, and others can also be put at risk, which can in turn jeopardize a venue’s future relationships with those parties. Staff working events, as well as executives in attendance, face risks too.
What are the potential consequences?
The most immediate and obvious reason for a large venue to avoid physical security issues is that they pose threats to the safety of the people on the premises, as well as to the physical assets and infrastructure of the venue. This makes clear the value of narrative intelligence in getting ahead of emerging narratives and the threats they may carry, so that Risk Management professionals can take steps to make sure lives and property are prepared and protected should one or more of those narratives jump from the screen and become a physical incident.
But the case for narrative intelligence doesn’t stop at enhancing security. It can extend to liability issues as well. When a physical security breach occurs, much of the subsequent discussion centers on analyses of how the venue handled the situation in the moment. But these breaches also raise questions – especially today – about the extent to which online narratives circulating ahead of the event can make venues better prepared – and to what extent getting ahead of those narratives should be venues’ responsibility.
“With so many examples of online narratives spilling over into the physical world, large venues may increasingly be held accountable not just for how they respond to risks, but for what they did – or didn’t do – to see risks coming ahead of time.”
The takeaway: With so many examples of online narratives spilling over into the physical world, large venues may increasingly be held accountable not just for how they respond to risks, but for what they did – or didn’t do – to see risks coming ahead of time. This makes getting ahead of narratives with narrative intelligence a key step venues can take to protect themselves not just from physical events themselves, but from their fallout.
Read the new guide to learn more about narrative intelligence, or reach out to us to see the Zignal Narrative Intelligence Cloud for yourself.