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What Venue Operations and Security Can Learn from the “Self-Serve” Retail Kiosk

By September 21, 2015Article

We have smart machines all around us working to make our lives more convenient. Why not use intelligent machine technology to improve and consolidate the processes of greeting, validating and security screening? 

Anyone who has been on a plane or gone to a sports stadium knows first-hand the drudgery of going through security screening. You’re standing in line, waiting excitedly to enter the stadium or get to your gate, and when you finally get to the front of the line you are met by a guard in plastic gloves and your excitement leaves immediately. You’re now just trying to get through the invasive and embarrassing motions of letting a stranger rifle through your bags, and you’re praying you aren’t “randomly” selected to get a full-body pat down. This type of security checkpoint is a genuinely unpleasant experience, but most people just let it happen because they don’t feel they have a choice. We’re told this unpleasant experience is necessary – but it’s a dangerous myth! 

It’s not necessary and you do have a choice. There is a much better way to provide venue security that is also a very pleasant experience for people. 

Think on this: You’ve seen the “self-serve” kiosks in retail stores that allow consumers to help themselves and speed up the checkout process. This is a huge movement in the retail space that has proven time and again to be a very effective way to offer a better retail experience for customers. In fact, a 2014 survey revealed that 73 percent of global consumers use self-checkouts at supermarkets. Think about what it would look like if you applied that same “self-serve” concept to venue operations and security screening. People scan their tickets and bags and get through much faster in an altogether enjoyable process. No security guards sifting through your bags, no feeling of individual profiling – more personal privacy and dignity. 

So how do we get to a place where this “self-serve” concept can become a reality? There are two things that need to happen. 

We need to design efficient “entry experiences” with the human element in mind 

A much more holistic approach is required when it comes to looking at the process of venue entry. The process begins the moment the guest (or fan, or passenger) buys the ticket. This experience continues with ticket validation, then the passage through the security checkpoint and ends once the individual is safely inside. 

The name and address input at the time of ticket purchase are enough to build a profile that allows a venue to not only customize the security experience, but also speed it up based on the person and their background. By the time the guest actually gets to the security checkpoint, the venue already has a sense of what type of experience the person prefers while still maintaining effective security for the venue. 

Questioning, removing items from bags and manual searches can all be minimized. Enter the self-serve concept. Guests proceed, self-assisted and within sight of their personal belongings, into the venue. Guests will see personalized greetings and promotional messages throughout the process that are personalized and focused on their consumer interests. This approach protects human dignity in an efficient operational process. 

We need to leverage intelligent machine technologies 

Autonomous sensing, decision making and adaptive learning are just a few qualities this technology can bring to the table. Not only can connected intelligent machines deliver better screening and security, but they can also speed up the entire process and reduce costs – especially in regard to staffing. That is just the beginning. 

Once multiple systems are operating, screening results can be shared across the network to further hone detection accuracy and provide actionable operational information. A person’s previous visits through other connected entries can be assessed in the intelligent network, yielding a risk assessment and adapting current processes accordingly. The result is an intelligent solution that can be more consistent than a human when screening a bag, with no bias, eliminating the guest stigma of profiling. All anybody is looking for today is a winning balance between the consumer experience and effective security. 

If venues can provide their guests the same un-invasive, efficient process that can be found at their local retail or grocery store, we’ll achieve higher operational intelligence for a venue. This type of self-service security checkpoint is a significant step in the right direction for both venues and guests as it offers a genuinely pleasant experience and blends security into the overall venue process instead of a hiccup that guests have to just “get through.” 

Dr. Lisa Dolev, founder and CEO of Qylur Intelligent Systems (Palo Alto), a provider of entry security and operations optimization solutions for public venues, has focused on the human experience aspects of high-security environments. Prior to Qylur, she led initiatives for protecting public and soft targets against terrorist attacks. With Qylur, she created one of the market’s first Industrial Internet of Things solutions.