(Kristen Fulmer is Sustainability Director at OVG360, a division of Oak View Group, which is parent company to VenuesNow. She and Prevent Advisors’ Mike Downing prepared the following guest post.)

Ten Questions to Ask Yourself

A venues’ biggest risk/adversary isn’t necessarily a security threat or an extreme weather event. The greatest risk is a status quo or complacent posture.  It’s not anticipating, not preventing, or not knowing how to mitigate any potential threat in our rapidly changing future. There is no better insurance than to “future proof” our venues by equipping ourselves to better anticipate and prevent threats. A proactive operational approach builds a savvy defense to reduce risk, creates a strong offense against other risks, and also elevates a venues’ reputation, enhancing the staff and visitor experience, and supporting the surrounding community.

In any team sport, a multi-pronged defensive system will reduce the need to rely on a perfectly executed offense. In the safety and security world the same is true with a preventative culture and in the sustainability world, the same is true with a resource-reduction-focused resilient culture. No matter what the future holds, we know that threats evolve, expectations change, and resources diminish and expand. Because unpredictability is the only predictable future, our venues and associated business will always be best served if we build defensive, preventative plans to reduce

the negative impacts of as many relevant threats as possible.

Two of Oak View Group’s OVG 360 Service Divisions, Prevent Advisors, Oak View Group’s Security Arm, and GOAL (Green Operations and Advanced Leadership), Oak View Group’s Sustainability Service, are charting a course in this direction. Together, the teams have combined forces to share Ten Proactive Measures to Future-Proof Your Venue:

It’s all about Mindset

  1. Am I following the oxygen mask rule? On an airplane, we are often reminded to secure our oxygen mask before helping others. This same rule is true of maintaining a proactive operational mindset. To protect the environment, much less protect other people, an individual must first protect themselves. According to a recent study, over half of Americans believe that climate change is one of the most critical issues facing society, but don’t know where to start to reduce the risk – They don’t know where their oxygen mask is. This can cause ‘climate anxiety’, which leads to the inability to know – or want – to take action. On a plane, some people probably think they’ll never need their mask and don’t bother to find out where it is and some people want to know, but don’t know where to look or who to ask. The same is true of a proactive mindset against environmental or security threats – We must understand the potential risk and respect it enough to be prepared. We must be ready for the issue before it arises because in the moment, it might be too late.
  2. Am I promoting a preventative culture? We are caught in a dangerous imbalance between an overreliance on First Responders and diminishing resources for them. To combat this imbalance, we must enforce a ‘First Preventer’ mindset throughout our workforce, which is aimed to prevent some of the circumstances that often prompts the need for urgent response. Safety and Security may not be the number one priority of all staff; however, it should be a priority for all who work, visit, or perform in the venue – hence The Prevention Culture. This is maintained through continuous training, which engages all staff on security protocols and policies, establishes suspicious reporting protocols, and guarantees situational awareness through current threat briefs. We become nimbler in adapting to changing conditions; more willing to integrate state of the art technologies and more open to fostering organizational cultures that adapt quickly, surge when needed, and have in place organic security plans and protocols that are never considered to be in final form.

Education is Critical

  1. Is my staff trained for a crisis? Risk is traditionally defined as Threat + Vulnerability + Consequence = Risk. The primary objective of risk management is to create a level of protection that mitigates vulnerabilities to threats and the potential severity, thereby reducing risk to an acceptable level. Training is critical to achieving a confident presence, understanding venue policies/procedures, emergency preparedness/crisis response, Incident Command/Unified Command, and the principles of recovery. Additionally, understanding how to manage risk is critical to operating a safe and secure venue.

Tabletop Exercises are useful with venue leadership and municipal stakeholders engaged in all-hazards, capabilities-focused approach with multiple potential scenarios used to test communication, coordination, and command and control. A hotwash debrief for lessons learned and a thorough After-Action Report and Improvement Plan create a learning culture and greater resiliency focused on “the art of the possible” and resolve.

  1. Are we reducing our role in causing future risks? Security is critical because risks are sudden – They can happen any time and any place in a variety of methods. Longer term threats, such as extreme weather events (high wind, droughts, floods) are more predictable or anticipated, but they seem less certain or too far away. That said, extreme weather events, catalyzed by human-caused climate change, are often deadly and much more costly to a building. Because these risks feel inevitable, people often forget how critical they are to plan for. That said, the approach to mitigating the risk should be similar. In addition to mandating training about preventing these risks, venue leadership should also highlight solutions to reduce the venue’s part in contributing to climate change in the first place. The more we can all do our part in contributing to the cause, the less severe the risk will be for everyone.

Location Matters

  1. Are we ready for the most likely threats? Thanks to science and historical data, we know what climate risks are most relevant for a specific location. When planning and educating on longer-term climate-induced threats, plan for the threats most likely to your location. If your venue is located in or near a flood plan, plan for floods; If the venue is in the desert, anticipate water shortages. Having physical material and supportive resources in a time of crisis will better future-proof your venue and elevate the positive sentiment from all stakeholders.
  2. Do we include historical and cultural sensitivities to our policies and SOPs? Not only should all security-related Policies, Procedures, and SOPs be based on security requirements defined by Department of Homeland Security, Professional Sports Leagues, and the local municipalities, they should also consider Historical and Cultural Sensitivities within the specific region. This is not a one-size-fits-all proposition and should be customized to the cultural context surrounding each venue. Through research and experience, Prevent Advisors has indexed over 500 Security Requirements and developed Doctrine that supports the six areas of General Administration, Training and Exercise, Security Operations, Communications/Security Operations Center, External Policies, and Emergency Preparedness and Response. Within the doctrine there are 100 separate standing plans. Plans and Policies are subject to change depending on the threat environment, emerging technologies, and crowd behavior.

You’re Part of a Community

  1. Do we have a good relationship with our municipality? A relationship between the venue site team and the municipal stakeholders are invaluable, establishing a comfortable rapport, instilling confidence, and solidifying investment. It is imperative that municipal stakeholders, such as police departments, fire departments, and local office of emergency services, review and approve the venue’s security policies and procedures. This allows the opportunity to cross-reference the local government’s code, statutes, and policies and also allows for additional historical or cultural context. Not only should the documents have overlap, but the training should include venue leadership and municipality stakeholders as well. These trainings, under the structure of Incident Command, Unified Command, and the National Emergency Management Model, should include opportunities to exercise the knowledge and experience through no-fault learning environments used in Tabletop Exercises and Field Exercises. We need leaders who can quickly adapt and are networked within the whole of community to have a real time understanding of evolving threats, and a highly trained staff that can appropriately react to threat activity and protocols in concert with municipalities.
  2. How do you use your assets to support community needs? Right now, you probably have several key assets that are being underutilized to support your community. Chances are, your venue is already well-known throughout the community – Nearly everyone in the surrounding municipality likely knows the name, location, and has a general familiarity with the grounds. Familiarity is an asset, especially in times of crisis or need, because they don’t need additional instructions on location and access. Space is another asset. Even if you don’t feel like you have storage space, you do – at least more than other buildings. Rethink various storage areas to allocate some areas for community needs – Potable water, dry goods, extra PPE, or materials for extreme weather events, such as sand bags, plywood, salt, or other materials that don’t expire. Your event schedule is another critical asset to the community. Even if it feels like the venue is busy, the gaps in the event schedule are a great time to host other critical community events, such as voting stations, vaccine and health clinics, job fairs, and more.

Start On-Site

  1. Are you operating efficiently and saving costs where possible? Sustainability is often about using money efficiently. Why spend money on expensive resource consumption – like electricity, fuel, or water, when those resources could be conserved and the money could be re-invested into other areas of the building, such as the proactive measures described above? Consider ways to reduce the consumption by retro-commissioning the building, balancing the HVAC systems, and installing more efficient systems, like LED lights, timers and motion-sensed energy features, and water conservation features like sink aerators and low-flow fixtures. Because utility costs are so high, most efficiency upgrades have a quick payback period, which enables investment in more proactive solutions.
  2. Do you know if you’re ready for a crisis situation? Red Team/Quality Assurance Audits to Ensure Expectations of Leadership, Execution of Policies, and Measures of Effectiveness are met – Prevent Advisors Red Team Assessment Program, recently recognized and awarded the Safety Act Designation as an Industry Best Practices Service Technology, is a methodical red team penetration assessment process by which a facility operator can evaluate following:
    • The effectiveness of the security policies and procedures of which the facility operator’s overall security program is comprised
    • How well its security personnel –who are responsible for executing the security policies and procedures –understand the security policies and procedures
    • The ability of its security personnel to properly execute the security policies and procedures as intended
    • The effectiveness of the security policies and procedures when properly executed (are the security policies and procedures having the intended outcome).