The Last Word

Securing the Globe

BACK in January, NBC televised one of the most-watched awards shows in the United States: the 63rd Annual Golden Globes Awards. The three-hour show attracted more than 18.7 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research figures. That number is up 2 million from last year, and the ratings just keep growing.

Starry-eyed Americans sat on their couches for three hours, tracking their favorite celebrities and their nominations. We all watched as the celebrities stepped out of their limos and walked down the red carpet. We watched their reactions as they heard their names called for nominations. We stared at what they were wearing and wondered how much it all could possibly cost. We saw them present, accept and applaud a large number of awards.

What we didn't see were the screening processes for guests, the verification of identities or the one bad seed that got through the security gates. Why didn't we see this? Because security and identity verification went so smoothly before the event even started that on show day, they seemed almost nonexistent. Security was tight, but did any of the viewing public notice? No.

More People, Increased Security
The Golden Globes has come a long way since its hay day back in 1944, when the first awards ceremony was held at the 20th Century Fox studios. This year's show was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

"The Hilton became like a miniature city," said Steve Locascio, managing director for the Michael Russell Group, the company in charge of providing security for the event.

Of the 7,500 people that were involved in the event, 4,000 of them had to be credentialed. The streets surrounding the hotel were blocked off, allowing only those that were verified to attend. The place was a frenzied mess of people, and Locascio's primary responsibility was to not only keep those people safe, but also to make sure that those people were actually who they said they were. For this reason, he chose to employ Event Credentials LLC in authenticating the identity of each guest.

Event Credentials, a company that recently developed an RFID software solution, offered Locascio its three-in-one software solution. The software solution:

  • Allows the event planner or security firm to capture and store the data on the individual to be credentialed.

  • Issues the photo RFID credential at the event site.
  • Scans the credentials, both at the perimeter points of an event and at the internal points of the event.

Therefore, the credential includes the person's name, picture and RFID chip. And when they pass an access point, their picture and name pop up on the wireless PDA devices used to scan the cards.

"We chose [Event Credentials] because of the flexibility of what they do," Locascio said.

Being a company that works almost exclusively with event security, its system is portable.

"It allows you to bring the same high-tech access control system that you have in your office building or your campus complex to your event site, whether your event site is the Beverly Hilton or the Sheraton towers," said Steve Mark, managing director for Event Credentials.

Security -- A Major Issue
The times have changed dramatically since the onset of the Golden Globes. And security has increased significantly post-9/11. Event personnel and security have, through the years, analyzed the posing threats and have done what they could to combat those threats.

"Fifteen years ago, we were using lanyards and had areas that were punched out or color-coded. Security wasn't a major factor then. The major issue was that we didn't want certain outlets to cover this event, and we were more concerned about that than anything else," Locascio said. "Things have expanded since then. There could be people that want access to the site for other reasons, and we try to keep those people out."

In recent years, credentialing has become more important because of security issues, Locascio said. He cites crowd control and identity management as being the top two security vulnerabilities that he has to consider.

"We don't want to get into a situation where we have more bodies than an area can control, and we want to make sure that the people that we want there are the people that are coming," he said. "From a show standpoint, the tickets are all by invitation, so we don't want these tickets to appear on some Web site for sale."

RFID credentialing has made its way from simply tracking assets to becoming a more reliable form of a two-factor authentication system. And now, we see RFID as a more prominent technology used for security than ever before.

RFID Saves the Day
Each RFID chip has a unique serial number so it can't be duplicated or counterfeited, and it can be activated or deactivated through the software, Mark said. The system was used for identification purposes, access control and people management. It allowed personnel to manage the amount of guests at each table; to allow authorized guests into the ballroom; and to identify that the person who presented the credential was actually who he or she claimed to be.

"The event sponsors or security covering the event want to be able to put their finger on exactly who's been granted access to the venue. With the software solution, you can instantly see who has been granted access, and you can also share that database with local and federal law enforcement," Mark said. "You get tighter control on who is gaining access to these events, while also preventing counterfeiting of these credentials."

Using Event Credentials for three years and counting, Locascio has been satisfied with his decision.

"We've done this for 15 years now. If we were going to turn to an automated system like this and a secure credential system, it had to have everything that we needed, and Event Credentials did just that," he said.


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