One of the most tried and true marketing tools available to companies of all sizes is that of the live event. Hosting a networking function, a product launch, an industry conference all carry with them a certain responsibility to the attendees. Any type of branded event or in-person event has a way of drawing crowds and generating buzz, unlike most other marketing initiatives can. Today, large events rethink safety and emergency protocols using software.

Emergency protocols using software.

In an age of ever-present physical and data-oriented threats, it’s critical that marketing and events teams remain on the cutting edge of security technologies. Armed with the right technology, businesses can help prepare and face a crisis should one arise.

It’s with security in mind that we spoke with Shane Edmonds, CTO at Aventri. Aventri is a global event technology firm ensuring event organizers plan and execute within data safety guidelines. Attendees — and attendees’ personal data — will remain safe and secure during company functions.

ReadWrite: In an era of mass casualty incidents, how can event organizers use technology before their event to attempt to keep attendees safe from any potential threats?

Shane Edmonds:

Social media is probably your best bet before an event. You can use social listening tools to track any possible threats in the context of the event. Make sure that you are tracking your show’s hashtag to see the chatter. Track the region and location of your event as well.

You should also be checking all the engagement that your own posts receive. If you see something that seems strange — check the profile of the individual who posted. See if profiles and postings look legitimate. Is the account real or something that’s causing concern?

In addition, always make sure that you are using technology that follows all the standard protocols for data security. Don’t risk a leak of attendee information.

ReadWrite: If an incident should occur during event, how can technology be used to help – both during and after the incident?

Shane Edmonds:

 Your mobile app should be considered your best mode of communication. Most attendees will already have the mobile app downloaded on their phones. Attendees like to view their schedule and engage in networking activities.

However, your app is also your first line of communication with your attendees. Encourage all event attendees to download the app so they can receive up-to-date alerts on anything happening at the show.

Let your very special brand-ambassadors (attendees) know that this will be your primary way of alerting them to any incidents on-site. Through the app, you have the ability to send push notifications to users’ phones to let them know of anything going on.

With Aventri, even if users don’t have push notifications enabled, once they open the app, they will see that they have an unread message in their notification center.

Additionally, if events are using beacons and NFC, you will know “where people are” within the event. For a security incident at a specific location — you’ll use your mobile app to first alert people within that location range. Then, you’ll alert the rest of the attendees, secondly.

RW: What about data security? What measures should events teams take to protect attendees’ digital information while they’re on-site?

Edmonds:

Data security is extremely important today. With things like GDPR active to protect individual’s rights to privacy, you need to make sure that you are doing your part as an event organizer. You’ll ensure that those who are attending your event have their data protected.

Keep data secure by avoiding storage information locally. Leverage the cloud when you can. Avoid storing registration files on your local computers. Manage all information on the platform in which you originally captured their information.

If you are not currently using a registration platform to capture that information you should look into this service.

Additionally, avoid putting personally identifiable information (PII) on badges, QR codes or RFID. PII could be any data that could be used to identify a particular person like full name, address, email, job.

RW: Is there anything attendees should do before attending an event to make sure their data is secure?

Edmonds:

Attendees should question how the events they’re signing up for is processing personal data. Most events today will have a privacy policy in place that will explain how data is used and stored so the attendee can have peace of mind.

Once you sign up, as an attendee, for the event and receive your registration confirmation, don’t forward that email to anyone else on your team. Forwarded emails contain PII about you. You’ll want to keep anything that has a link to PII private.

RW: Does the safety-oriented (physical and data) technology need to change much depending on the size of the event?

Edmonds:

Yes! Large events with thousands of attendees have different factors to worry about compared to smaller meetings and events. Large events need to follow protocols concerning traffic flow and crowd control. There are simulators that model this process to inform and educate event planners.

NFC enabled badges will help. You want to bring a seamless attendee flow to the show floor. You’ll know where your attendees are on the floor at all times. With crowd location, you’ll be in a position to control, help and inform your crowd more easily.

RW: Is there anything else events teams should know about using technology to ensure attendee physical safety and data security?

Edmonds:

Gratefully, there’s a ton of new technology on the market today that can be used to keep your event secure. Best practices are to put in place the best tech you have at each event you host. No matter what your budget is, there’s a technology-oriented option available.

When you’re thinking about attendee badges for your event, consider adding photos to them. This will ensure that the person who actually registered for the event is the person who is at the show. (Photos help you avoid adding personal information.) Upon check-in, use a camera or an iPad to snap a photo of your attendee to print onto their badge.

Every time someone scans the badge to attend a session, the photo of the attendee will be visible on the device. Your badges can also be NFC enabled. NFC technology creates access-control abilities. With this tech, you are enabled to regulate attendee access to specific areas in seconds.

Your check-in systems should track reprints and have policies that are automatically enforced by the system.

Three Key Tools for Event Security:

As Edmonds points out, there are many different technologies that events teams should be implementing for security purposes. Three of the most useful are:

  1. A mobile app for your company or event. Your company app will be used as a valuable communication tool.
  2. Use a cloud-based storage option. The cloud-based option prevents attendees’ data from being stored locally. Local storage is a vulnerable storage option.
  3. Technologically advanced badges. By using up-to-date technology with attendee badges you avoid using personal identifying information (PII). Instead use the attendee photos for identification purposes. Implement NFC for security and access usage.
Deanna Ritchie

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content development.