Ever since the devastation of 9/11, the modern age has been collectivised under the banner of the “age of terror”. The need for security – individual, national, and event-based – has never been greater. Many examples of devastation retain a perceptible influence around the world and remain fresh in the minds of many: the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, the Paris attack of 2015, the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing and many more examples that only reinforce the need for heightened event security.
How to conceptualise venue security:
As summarised by Exhibition World UK: “safety… denotes all activities and technology, which are necessary, to preserve the integrity (well-being) of all people, who participate at the events - exhibitors, visitors, staff, media management and subcontractors and other stakeholders”.  (For further information from Exhibition World UK regarding event safety and security, visit their website: https://www.exhibitionworld.co.uk/). The safety of an event needs to entail considerations of not just the immediate venue space, but also the surrounding streetscape and environment to ensure the safe movability of people – personnel and patrons alike.  Risk assessments and duty of care protocols are key to ensuring the safety of all those on site.
There is, however, an often forgotten or underestimated aspect of venue security that may not be in the forefront of organiser’s minds but can most certainly pose a great risk to event integrity: cyber security and data protection. Often, security considerations are limited to the physical aspects of protection: letting the right people in, providing access only to those with authorisation, and securing the premises – invisible threats sometimes remain unmitigated, yet are just as important to consider. 
Threats and Risks:
Event organisers and venue operators need to consider the various risks that could be encountered at their events. The most prominent risks are detailed below:
1. Hostile Vehicle Mitigation
Consideration of Hostile Vehicle Mitigation is fundamental to contingency planning. According to UK publication Government Business, trends and patterns across recent attacks clearly demonstrate the focus of vehicular attacks within public, open spaces, or events with large gatherings. (For further details from Government Business, visit their website for more information: https://governmentbusiness.co.uk/). These attacks find their success derived from limited perimeter security, a lack of knowledge as to who is on site or open access entry points.
2. Cyber Security and Data Protection
Large events with Wi-Fi networks function as easy and accessible targets for hackers, who will target both the event organisers themselves, and any patrons who use this public forum.
3. Lack of Venue Awareness (Entry, Exit and Open Access Points)
Failure to actively staff and monitor access points, both public and staff only, invites attacker access to the venue, behind-the-scenes management, and immersion within the crowd, all of which now function as possible places of danger.
4. Unscheduled Delivery and Traffic Creation
By failing to adequately schedule and organise the delivery of goods and resources to the venue, there is greater opportunity for sabotage or attacks within the set-up stage of an event – gaining access to the venue becomes much easier.
Voyage Control and Venue Security:
Voyage Control’s software is a pioneering platform through which the threats and risks listed above can be minimised and mitigated. Collaboration with the company and licensing the software poses many benefits that ensure the effective scheduling, organisation, and time management of an event, but furthermore ensures the security of venues, tangible and invisible, to secure the safety of all on-site personnel, patrons, and contractors.
So, why choose Voyage Control?
1. Without the technology and its real-time updates, it is nearly impossible to know who is on site at any given time.
Voyage Control’s scheduling and booking system is one of the most effective forms of knowing who is on site, when they arrived and where they are – without this software, it is impossible to maintain an understanding of who is where, what resources have arrived and who is responsible for these deliveries. It correlates to MPI’s Safety & Security for Meetings and Events recommendations by establishing a procedural, planned schedule of arrivals and deliveries.  (For MPI’s full guide, visit their website: https://www.mpi.org/essential-guide/security-planning).
2. Any data retained by the platform is secured against cyber-attacks or hackers.
When event organisers or venue owners access the Voyage Control platform, various levels of permission are needed to access certain data, information, and updates. Every user receives the default scheduling of bookings but cannot interact with anything above their appointed access points. Moreover, the software is hosted on AWS and secure web services to ensure all data, information and event management notes are secured against cyber-attacks and client integrity is of utmost importance. AWS pride themselves on being “the most secure global infrastructure” with their use of encryption to secure any data collected.  A detailed list of AWS data security and compliance protection can be found HERE. Voyage Control as a company, moreover, implements several security measures including email verification, captcha, and permissions to ensure that only those who should have access to certain data do so per site, client, or event.
3. Voyage Control can provide consultation pertaining to risk assessment and management practices.
Different venues require different levels of security engagement, and whilst the company is not a security provider, consultation can be provided, and recommendations made as to how to best ensure events run in a scheduled, organised way that minimises the risk of attacks. A particular threat that can mitigated through the software includes Hostile Vehicle Mitigation: if the details have not been entered into the Voyage Control system in advance, event organisers have more grounds for interrogation or turning vehicles away from the venue.
4. Different event requirements can be customised per customer/event to ensure maximised security measures and data protection.
Every event/client website is customisable to include listings of all safety protocols and procedures relevant to that event. Voyage Control works closely with event organisers of large-scale security events, particularly in the UK, where the following procedures are followed: the Voyage Control platform for events of such high security are password protected and coded, have limited bookings to include those only made in advance (no day-of changes), the inability to share the website link with any external parties, and an approval system for access.
Security is of utmost importance for any organiser or venue, and should be at the forefront of any planning, scheduling, or organisational processes.
Written by: Elizabeth Fowler / Jan 5, 2021