ISC West 2019 is quickly approaching! In addition to great networking, special events and new products and technologies, attendees have access to 85+ top-quality training sessions through SIA Education@ISC. One key session to add to your calendar: The Stadium of the Future on Thursday, April 11!
This session seeks to share the latest updates and findings regarding stadium and public venue security from the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). Dr. Lou Marciani, director of NCS4; Scott Dunn, senior director of business development, solutions and services at Axis Communications; Greg Moya, global pre-sales director at Dell Technologies; and Ryan Zatolokin, business development manager and senior technologist at Axis Communications, will share more about NCS4 and the Sports and Entertainment Technology Alliance and how you can participate in upcoming projects and initiatives.
SIA spoke with Marciani and Gary Gardner, president of TotaleAccess and discussion facilitator, about what attendees can expect at this exciting session.
What are the NCS4 and the Technology Alliance all about?
Lou Marciani: The NCS4 is established at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) under the auspices of the vice president of research. USM is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a “doctoral/research-extensive institution”; this national recognition validates the high quality of USM’s strong graduate and undergraduate programs. The NCS4 is partially underwritten by grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and enterprise functions with the ambitious mission of supporting the advancement of sports safety and security in the United States and throughout the world.
The research and educational mission of NCS4 is accomplished by working in close partnership with industry professionals, researchers and academics, and national and international government agencies to develop and deploy practical performance improvement tools and applications that bolster the capacity of practitioners to respond effectively to the current and future safety and security challenges and issues.
How did the NCS4 get started, and where is it today?
LM: In the aftermath of 9/11, DHS identified sport venues as potential soft targets for terrorism. In 2006, USM established NCS4 in response to the nation’s emerging security needs. Today, NCS4 is the nation’s only research center devoted to the study and practice of spectator sports safety and security.
Since its inception in 2006, NCS4 has played a critical role in helping the ever-growing U.S. sports industry through thought leadership, professional development and sponsorship of industry and academic forums. The center promotes research, scholarship and sports safety and security solutions through annual forums, professional certification programs, academic research, training, assessments, laboratory evaluations and partnerships.
Our team has extensive experience in sports management, homeland security, emergency management, incident response, professional development, research, education and training. Combining operational perspectives with collaborative research and education, NCS4 contributes expertise in translating lessons learned into best practices, professional competencies, cutting-edge research and tested and validated technology solutions in safety and security.
What are a few of the NCS4’s recent key updates and/or findings regarding stadium and public venue security?
GG: Here are several recent initiatives and developments at the NCS4:
- Workforce Development Project: This effort involves conducting a study and developing a program to address the issues surrounding competent staff recruitment, development and retention and is intended toward problem solving and decision making. The industry has grim statistics on staff retention and cost, and a program has been proposed with a pathway to leadership, e-learning steps from bronze to silver, gold and platinum levels and the establishment of a knowledge management system to track and provide validation to venues of attendee status.
- Return on Investment (ROI) Workshop: The NCS4 has completed a study that parallels the workforce return in investment (ROI) project involving preparing a course to assist organizational leaders, which will give them the tools to calculate and present ROI measures to management for justifying smart expenditures. NCS4 will conduct a workshop on justifying workforce development and ROI July 29-30 on the USM Gulfport campus.
- Certified Sport Security Professional (CSSP) Online Review Course: This offering, which will be available this spring, will help professionals study at their own pace in preparation for the CSSP test.
- Executive Training Senior Leadership Course: The first one-day course, designed for senior leaders of venues, events and public safety, was successfully held in New York City, and a second class will be held this May in Detroit, Michigan.
- Sports and Entertainment Risk Assessment (SERA): The NCS4 has picked up leadership of a tool formerly known as the Risk Self-Assessment Tool for venues and totally redesigned the application into SERA. Best practices have been incorporated, and the tool is being vetted, with roll-out expected this fall. SERA will allow for anonymous peer comparisons of self-assessments and be a pre-evaluation to the new NCS4 venue assessment program.
- Sport and Entertainment Safety & Security Best Practices: The NCS4 continues conducting yearly summits to update the best practices documents for commercial sport and entertainment facilities, intercollegiate sports, interscholastic athletics and after-school activities and marathon and running events, which guide all training and assessments.
- App for Best Practices: USM received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, a portion of which will help develop tools and functions to make the NCS4 safety and security best practices fully and effectively practical for applications at events and facilities. The purpose of the app is to digitize the best practices for easier use, maintenance, cross-program support and end-user applications.
- Annual Conference: The 10th annual National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, July 9-11. We will examine what has happened int he past, what we have done to address gaps and how effective that has been and what gaps remain.
- Upcoming Workshop: The NCS4 will hold a workshop on managing crowds at sports and entertainment events on March 28 in Biloxi, Mississippi, in conjunction with the PGA tour.
What is the Sports and Entertainment Technology Alliance?
LM: The mission of the Sports and Entertainment Technology Alliance is to foster education on current and new technologies and promote best practices for safer and smarter schools, sport and entertainment venues and events. The Alliance is the driving force for identifying innovative safety and security solutions through integrated technology design, development and process enhancement with respect to sport venue operations management and associated first responder capabilities.
North America’s sports industry has a value of over $60 billion. With over 3,500 stadiums in the United States and over 500 million spectators attending sporting events annually, providing a safe and secure experience has never been more important. Sport events have taken on tremendous political, economic, social and symbolic importance. In a constantly evolving threat environment, organizations and franchises are investing substantially in protecting spectators, athletes, and brands.
The National Sport Security Laboratory (NSSL) was established in 2010 to connect professional, intercollegiate, interscholastic and open-access venues with solutions designed to solve critical issues in sports safety and security. The NSSL provides a platform where research, information, and theory can be transferred into application and practice.
Given the exponential change in technology, the establishment of the Alliance is critical. Integrated solutions and technology continue to serve a major role in sport venue operations management and associated safety/security functions. The intention is to create a value proposition that represents NCS4’s commitment to the sport safety and security industry.
What are the biggest challenges and needs within public venue security?
GG: The top ten areas are:
- Having a competent and trained venue/event workforce
- Conducting effective risk assessments to effectively prepare for all hazards
- Proper planning based on an appropriate assessment
- Establishing effective command and control with the implementation of unified joint operations centers
- Establishing effective public-private collaboration
- Sufficient and effective technology to address evolving threats and streamline technical operations
- Effective screening
- Addressing evolving threats like drones, cyberattacks, chem-bio attacks, active shooter threats and vehicular attacks
- Effective preimeter control
- Traffic management
Where can we go to learn more and get involved in this field?
LM: If corporations or individuals are interested in joining the Sports and Entertainment Alliance, please contact me at 601-266-5675 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.