CELL Executive Director Melanie Pearlman

At the 39th annual INTIX conference, the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab will give the keynote presentation on creating a first-rate guest experience while enhancing security measures for guests. CELL Executive Director Melanie Pearlman will open the conference being held from Jan. 23-25 in Baltimore.

As security becomes a mounting concern for live entertainment, CELL has spent the years since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 working on ways to prevent terrorism before it reaches event gates. The non-profit, non-partisan institution has a state-of-the-art facility to bring event teams in, a speaker’s series with national security experts, and public safety training initiatives that empower the public and private sector on how to enhance community safety.

“We not only bring people to our facility, but we have actually created a specific preparedness training in which we engage the entertainment industry in other cities and states across the country,” Pearlman told Amplify. “We do a customized training to enhance their security and safety. We’ve worked with everybody from Major League Baseball All-Star Game to the Indy 500 and right now we are working with the Minneapolis host committee in advance of the Super Bowl.”

CELL works with both the public and private sector to help determine a tailored approach to preventing terrorist attacks at venues, events, schools, and other entities.

“A lot of the entertainment industry has been a victim of its success in hardening its venues,” Pearlman said. “Criminals and terrorists are taking advantage of vulnerabilities of the perimeter” and Pearlman plans to address the implications of that.

“Unfortunately, I think that we all understand that terrorists are targeting events,” Pearlman said. “The question is how has terrorism and the targets they have taken on evolved and what that means to the event industry. In particular, who is perpetrating the attacks? The fact that that has evolved, how have the threats and what are the threatened landscapes in the event industry.”

In her opening keynote for INTIX, Pearlman plans to address those questions as well as the evolving threats facing the live event industry. Specifically, Pearlman will discuss the types of prevention and preparedness training that the industry can take in order to ensure safety for themselves, their clients, and their fans in addition to passing those effective protocols onto other partners.

“Prevention is a large part of what particular measures we can do to help mitigate the possibility of those atrocities from happening. We’ve seen it successfully implemented and deployed,” Pearlman said.

For instance, Pearlman explained that campaigns like “See Something, Say Something” can be highly productive, but only if staff understands what they are looking for in terms of their event or venue’s vulnerabilities. The CELL Executive Director will layout the ways to keep attendees safe without detracting from the customer experience.

“What are the vulnerabilities, how do you assess those respective vulnerabilities, and how do you put in preventative measures or empower those in which you are partnering with to make sure that they understand what to look for in a succinct and effective way that uses your time and resources most efficiently. It should ultimately add to the guest experience,” Pearlman said.

While Pearlman understands that a certain amount of funds and training need to be allocated to reactionary protocols, she has seen a shift in emphasis on prevention in the past few years.

“The industry has moved into a more proactive posture. The question becomes, what is the balance of how much I am going to spend on the presentation part of this and what the return on investment is,” Pearlman explained. “We have seen the beginning of that shift. I would suggest that there needs to be much more.”

CELL’s community awareness program takes into consideration that there is a limit to any venue or event’s budget. So in partnership with each entity, they help assess who to train, how quickly they can be trained, reporting protocols, and procedures to take preventative measures.

Pearlman will also discuss the impact technology has had on prevention from online warning signs to drones and the policies that police them.

The keynote will take place at on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at the Hilton Baltimore in Maryland. For more information on CELL’s opening keynote and a full schedule of events for the 39th annual INTIX Conference and Exhibition, head to their website. Entertainment industry professionals can register for the event at INTIX.org.