In today’s complex meeting environment, security can take on a wide range of forms. It might involve: mischief, spying, protests or protecting the intellectual property being discussed at the conference. Indeed, many corporate groups bristle at the thought of their competitors being around. Any of these scenarios can increase the need for vigilance by meeting planners and those in charge of security.

The truth is, any special event can introduce new variables that test an organization from a security perspective. Inevitably, there are a variety of people of unknown backgrounds infiltrating a given environment and attracting the attention of others who may not be in the least security conscious. All the while, personal freedoms and individual rights need to be respected. So preparation and planning is key.

Here is some security advice from those with experience in the field

1. Conduct a thorough security assessment

take the time to review well in advance the risks that your event is facing and determine proactive steps to take to ensure safety and well-being for all involved. This includes considering the profile of the event, topics of discussion, speakers and guests, number of guests, other events in the area, setting, etc…

2. Physical space

Walk through your venue space with security in mind and consider all the requirements you need for each section of your event.

3. Establish an access control plan

Determine who you want to have access to what areas of your event. Is it one that is open to the public or restricted? Perimeter security can be a major consideration. Next, consider the process whereby the appropriate people are given the access they need to the areas they need and what criteria they must meet to get those credentials.

4. Establish protocols

Consider the scenarios that are most likely to occur at your event and proactively develop plans to address them. This could include anything from a technical security breach, to an unruly guest or even an organized protest.

5. Take the time to train

Ensure that all security plans are shared with staff as needed so that they can help your guests understand what is required of them. One key factor to communicate to all staff is the chain of communication. If there is a situation where security is compromised, they need to understand who they need to inform and who will be telling them what to do in response.

6. Get the gear

Double check all security equipment and surveillance cameras are in good working order as needed.

7. Work with authorities

Lines of communication and protocols should be established with police, fire and hospital staff prior to a gathering as needed. They will work with you to address major concerns if appropriate. Most people would agree that attending a convention tends to be an exciting and busy time. But those in charge of keeping an event secure often are the hardest working men and women behind the scenes.