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May 4, 2020

Using Real-Time Alerts to Keep Fans Safe at Capital One Arena

Dataminr alerts form an important building block of the dynamic, live event security strategy at some of the world’s largest event venues. Of course, while people are not attending large-scale events due to policies and regulations intended to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, eventually things will return to a new normal. As some venues start reopening and loosening restrictions, sports and live events will slowly return, and with that comes many challenges—both old and new.

Recently, we spoke with our client Monumental Sports, to learn more about how they use Dataminr’s real-time alerts to help keep fans, employees, entertainers and athletes safe. Monumental Sports is a Washington D.C.-based sports and entertainment company that owns the 20,000-seat Capital One Arena, the 10,000-seat EagleBank Arena, and the 20,000-square-foot MedStar Capitals Iceplex.

Capital One Arena hosts large events nearly every night. For example, during one week in 2020, before city officials ordered live entertainment venues temporarily closed due to COVID-19, the arena’s schedule included WWE Monday Night Raw, a Celine Dion concert, MTV’s Wild N’ Out Live concert, two Washington Capitals games, and two Washington Wizards games.

Capital One Arena’s security manager, Joey Leon, says Dataminr forms an important cornerstone of his team’s realtime security response strategy. 

Dataminr processes billions of data points every day to identify signals that an unexpected event or risk is emerging in real-time. The platform sends Dataminr clients actionable alerts on everything from major events to local incidents in the area. Leon and his team use those alerts to make real-time decisions that keep fans, employees, athletes, and celebrities safe.

Large-scale, live events remain one of the world’s most challenging environments to physically secure.

Stadiums are, by nature, widely accessible. Large crowds can be targets for attacks, like the suicide bomber who killed 22 people outside an Ariana Grande concert in 2017 in the UK, or the man who opened fire on a Las Vegas concert later that year, killing 58 people. Inside the stadium, arguments can escalate into fights. Streakers try to run onto the field during games; crazed fans try to jump over barriers and onto the stage during concerts.

Different events carry different risk profiles. Event security teams build plans that forecast possible risks, and then dynamically make decisions based on the real-time alerts that they receive. Fast, accurate information is crucial.

For example, Leon recalls a recent case where a major band was flying into Dulles International Airport about an hour before they were scheduled to take the stage at Capital One Arena. Shortly after they landed, Dataminr sent him an alert saying that there was unusually heavy traffic near the airport. He was able to call the band’s manager and suggest an alternate route, making sure the band got to the venue on time.

In another case, police temporarily shut down a Washington Metro subway station to investigate a fatal stabbing—the same day that thousands of fans were planning to congregate outside the stadium to celebrate the Washington Mystics’ 2019 WNBA Championship. While the two events were not connected, Leon says Dataminr’s ongoing alerts allowed him to notify staff that a Metro station had been closed due to a police investigation.

Before adopting Dataminr, Leon says he relied on following hashtags and specific accounts. But “it didn’t work as well” as Dataminr gives Leon a complete picture of events that are happening in and around the stadium and other facilities in real-time.

“Our biggest thing is, we want to have the answers if someone comes and asks us [about an incident],” Leon said. “So, if someone from the practice facility calls and says, ‘Hey, we just came back from a trip and there’s a million cop cars outside; do you know what’s going on?’ We had the ability to tell them what was happening.”

Monumental Sports relies on a steady stream of real-time, relevant, and actionable information to keep people and assets safe. Dataminr augments the stadium’s traditional information sources, like police traffic, internal communication channels and the media, with real-time alerts based on publicly available information.

“It's a big improvement, and it's been great," Leon said. "We've been incredibly happy with it.”

Hundreds of leading companies like Monumental Sports use Dataminr’s real-time AI platform to improve their security, mitigate emerging risks, and make better business decisions in real time. Read the Monumental Sports case study here.

Topic(s): featured , Corporate Risk

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