Miranda Tomic

Football is about to kick off at stadiums across the country. The start of the season serves as an important reminder of the value of comprehensive venue security. Sports and entertainment venues face a heightened threat due to large crowds, prominent athletes and celebrities, and national television audiences. This threat is best countered with a robust security plan that addresses layers of vulnerability. Over the next three weeks, let’s consider three layers: (1) within the venue, (2) at the gate, and (3) at the secondary perimeter.

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An unexpected way to strengthen interior venue security is through social media monitoring. In today’s digital, interconnected age, it is not enough to monitor physical activity at your venue. Hostile actors often indicate their intentions in public forums online. By identifying this behavior early, your security team can direct resources appropriately to address the threat.

Recently, during a nationally televised sporting event, MSA identified and qualified a threatening social media post in real-time. This is done through a combination of technology and human analysis, both of which are crucial components for success. MSA uses a technology platform to automatically identify threatening language in open social media forums. This pulls a substantial amount of data – often hundreds of posts – many of which ends up being white noise. Human analysis is integral to make sense of that data.

Before releasing any data to our client, MSA intelligence analysts fully qualify the post as threatening. They determine relevant information such as the individual’s location, their associations, prior social media activity, and more. In this phase, only a handful of posts are identified as truly threatening.  This qualification removes all the noise so MSA is only reporting on posts that may truly indicate a threat to safety or security. By limiting the number of posts to those truly threatening, security teams can focus their resources in an efficient manner.

Once MSA passed the information on to the client’s security team, the security team was able to locate the exact seat of the individual posting. The security team approached the individual to question him further and was able to resolve the matter without incident. 

Additional areas of focus for interior venue security include CCTV footage, armed and/or unarmed operatives, explosive detection canines, and the establishment of an integrated operations center. Be sure to stay tuned for more on MSA’s layered approach to stadium security next week!