IAEE, ESCA Launch New Industry-wide Security Initiative; IAEE’s David DuBois Gives Insight

July 28, 2016

In the past few weeks alone, terrorist activities have wreaked havoc around the world at places ranging from an airport to a nightclub to an outside festival to even inside a church.

With the need for strengthened security for venues serving the trade show industry in mind, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, along with the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association, have given their full support to provide industry guidelines and standards created by the industry, for the industry, to the Safety Act Office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“Convention centers are soft targets,” said IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA.

He added, “An attack against one center, is an attack against all of us.”

The individual security efforts currently employed around the country have supported exhibitions and meetings for years, and the industry always has focused on improving safety and security preparedness for its events.  

There now is a need for the industry to outline national standards that are in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security’s Safety Act Office, DuBois said.

This initiative will be facilitated by security consulting firm Keyway, which has assembled a strong team of career law enforcement officials.

“The reason we are coming together now is to enhance what is already in place and to be proactive, instead of reactive, in the new reality of the world we live in today,” DuBois said.

He added, “This initiative is unique and we are fully supporting it because a strategic alignment of industry guidelines with the federal government, specifically the Safety Act Office within the Department of Homeland Security, is needed to protect the industry in the event of a terror act.”

There are some security measures in place, according to Larry Arnaudet, executive director of ESCA, such as ESCA’s Worker Identification System (WIS) badge security system.

“There are many players in the culmination of an exhibition or event, and this initiative will need the support from the entire ecosystem,” he added.

In order to kick start the effort, DuBois said an ‘alphabet soup’ of industry associations recently met in Dallas for a meeting to start talking through how the effort would work in order to encompass the entire industry.

“It’s really a no-brainer to support this initiative,” he added.

Members of the exhibitions and meetings industry employ a variety of measures to provide safety and security to all event attendees.

With this initiative, these parties can align their best practices to establish a national standard for convention centers of all sizes as a united effort to further mitigate risks through safety, security and preparedness measures.

In the next 30 days or so, DuBois said there will be a lot of one-on-one meetings with not only other associations, but also venue management companies like SMG in order to gather industry input.

After that, the next step will be to work the Department of Homeland Security’s office to set the necessary guidelines, he added.

Following that process, convention centers would then apply through Keyway to receive different levels of standardization, somewhat similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED -ating process.

According to Kevin Olsen, founding partner of Keyway, “The current threat environment necessitates identifying industry best practices and developing a security standard for all venues that protects our human and economic resources, while providing the liability protections afforded by the federal government.”

The end result for a convention center that reached the top level of security measures implemented would not only mean a safer venue for attendees and exhibitors to be in, but also lower insurance premiums.

“We want to be proactive vs. reactive,” DuBois said of launching the effort. “We are pulling in all associations to assist on this.”

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