Exhibition News May 2019 - Page 21

Cover Feature here’s a bit of a tightrope walk that has to be walked when it comes to event safety. Where it come cybercrime, sabotage, terrorism or anything in-between, it’s hard to see how we can balance the innate openness of events with being truly secure. At the start of April, I attended a briefing put on by the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and hosted by cyber security firm Digital Shadows. Among the standard advice that they would hand out to any company seeking consultation were elements like avoiding putting sensitive information online, avoiding sending sensitive information and testing up your apps through a community of security researchers, paying them a bounty if they highlighted a vulnerability. The speaker highlighted the now-infamous Tory Party conference app, which allowed anyone with an attendee email to log into the app as that person (and naturally the MPs’ emails were in the public domain) and talked us through some examples of ransomware. I left that briefing thinking that perhaps there was no effective solution to the hacks and data thefts that are fairly common in the exhibition industry, reliant as it is on openness, clear communication and exchange of information. Jose Bort of EventsCase will return to the subject of cybercrime later in this feature (p25). In the meantime, I thought I’d check in with a few event profs working in the security space to try and work out exactly where the industry stands when it comes to the safety of the people in our care. Crowd management At the end of the day, safety and security comes down to people, as does maybe every element of a live event. People are either happy or unhappy, safe or unsafe, malicious or benevolent. They’re fickle like that. I decided to check out how event security professionals were approaching the perennial problem of keeping attendees safe. “It’s like crowdsourcing your security,” says Geoff Revill, co-founder of Krowdthink. I’m talking to Revill because, back in March 2018, Krowdthink won government funding from the UK government’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), in a competition seeking ‘innovative ideas to reduce the threat from terrorist and malicious use of explosives and weapons in public spaces.’ The resulting app, which was launched as a product only two months ago, takes the basic premise of an event app and arguably turns it on its head. It is not event specific, instead connecting the user with others who have downloaded it, no matter the occasion. The app, which has been tested by the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, allows for quick and easy (and secure) communication between attendees and, importantly, between organisers and attendees. The benefits of this to events are fairly clear. Revill recalls a recent conversation with a pharmaceutical company which was holding an event when the Manchester Arena attack occurred. Though luckily not directly affected by the attack, the event was put into lockdown and the organisers found themselves unable to effectively communicate with their attendees, to explain clearly what had happened and what was being done. “It’s not just about prevention, there are things that you need to do after something horrendous has happened,” he continues. “You’ve got to plan for the question, and the number one thing that solves most problems is communication – fast, accurate and authoritative communication.” Planning, agrees Steve Blake, director at event security consultancy Storm 4 Events, is critical. “When you look at floorplans for conferencing and events or exhibitions, it’s all got to be done in the planning, May — 21