Armored Things Hosts "Large Venue Security Discussion" in Palo Alto

On November 10th, 2017, Armored Things invited technology and security thought leaders from around the country to join in Palo Alto, California for a discussion on Large Venue Security. The keynote speaker, Mike Downing (Oak View Group, former LAPD, Commanding Officer, Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, EVP Prevent Advisors), stated that today’s threats are escalating at an “alarming rate,” where single actor attacks are expected to rise in the next 2-3 years. Mike articulated that the greatest threat we face today is not “terrorism, organized crime, or drug cartels, but is complacency.” We must increase the intelligence signal and recognize that these threats exist, and create a decentralized effort to protect the values of the country. Mikes statements motivated many, and set a significant precedent for the panels that followed during the Armored Things event.

The first panel focused on “Securing the Stadium and Venue” with panelists comprised of Mike Downing (Keynote Speaker), Bruce Maas (CIO, Emeritus UWMadison), Bobby Long (Vice President of Sales Dedrone), and Julie Johnson (President, Co-founder of Armored Things). The main goal of any stadium or large venue is to keep the fear of attacks at such events from reducing attendance. The overarching theme during this panel was the importance of preventative security. For prevention to be efficient, panelists envisioned a culture where individuals are knowledgeable about executing possible scenarios without instilling paranoia in the public. It’s crucial to find “what is normal in the environment” and educate all involved in the event about emergency response plans. With the help of technology, one can understand the movements and psychology of crowds and can inform how evacuations are created and implemented. However, this cannot be achieved through one department alone. Deep meaningful partnerships and integration of multiple organizations (municipality, police, FBI) are necessary. Across all departments, crisis evaluation and procedure should be uniform and pre-practiced.        

The second panel of the event focused on the “Role of Data in Stadium and University Security” and included panelists Gordon Wishon (Former CIO, Arizona State University), Chris Dill (Venuetize Vice President Business Development; Former CIO Portland Trail Blazers), and Kevin Rodgers (Co-Founder, Vice President Engineering, Armored Things). In this discussion panelists spoke on the importance in finding a balance between data collection and maintaining privacy policies. Many students are already used to their data being routinely collected on social platforms and other systems, and the more IoT tech grows, the more the line will move for what is appropriate to be shared. One size doesn’t fit all, and not all data is created equal, so it is crucial that each vendor establishes clear security parameters surrounding the data they are collecting.

A presentation by David Olive (Principal at Catalyst Partners, 30 years Homeland Security and Chief of Staff / Aide in US Congress & US Senate) focused on the “Role of the Safety Act and the DHS.” The Safety Act was enacted in March 2003 and has helped the private sector contractors receive the same benefits as a government actors. This encourages companies to deploy and create innovative technology that keeps people safe. MLB and the MLS have all applied for best practices coverage through DHS which includes physical and electronic security, emergency procedures, stadium personnel training, loading dock and garage security operations. Any technology that can be used to detect, track, or mitigate terrorist threats is eligible for the Safety Act.

The last discussion focused on the “Role of Government in Stadium and University Security” and included George Nethercutt (Retired Congressman (R-WA), Bruce Maas (Former CIO University of Wisconsin Madison), and Elizabeth Carter (Former Director Chertoff Group; Former Plan Manager—WMD, NYC Emergency Management). Each panelist stressed the importance of building relationships within the government sector to reach the audience you need. The panelists agreed, creating devices without enabled security is a disservice- if these products are not created with the necessary requirements, their customers, for example, universities, are held accountable. Overall, it’s in a business’ best interest to build a security layer within their products which will also help gain monetary support from the government. The world is changing so rapidly that all must now address widening security gaps including the development of smart practices and policies for the use of such technologies. Additionally, higher security must be created for already existent technologies.

We want to thank panelists and participants for engaging in a dialogue that brought many perspectives to the table. As the importance of physical and cyber security in large venues only continues to grow, building channels for dialoguing ideas, sharing experiences and envisioning solutions will continue to inform best practices throughout the USA and the world.