As acts of terrorism have multiplied around the world, so too has the concern of officials in the trade show industry regarding its preparedness to respond to emergencies at venues hosting events. From that concern has risen a collaboration of leaders who joined forces to create the Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative (EMSSI), an organization that has developed security guidelines for organizers and facilities where gatherings might be held. The mission, officials say, is to protect the $283 billion industry as well as millions of people who participate in its events.
The initiative was led by the International Association of Venue Managers, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, and the Exhibition Services and Contractors Association, who worked together to examine possible threats and identify convention center best practices to safeguard visitors.
The guidelines were developed in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security/Safety Act Office with the intent of aligning security practices at trade shows and events with federal safety programs including the National Preparedness System and the National Infrastructure Protection Plan. “Given the ever-present threats we face from acts of terrorism and other emergencies,” EMSSI officials said in a statement, “our industry requires a coordinated approach to protect our patrons, employees and economic resources that incorporates best-in-class security practices in collaboration with government partners.” Citing unprecedented growth over the past seven years and the likelihood that extremists have increasingly attacked “soft targets” where masses gather, officials say the protocols are necessary now if the industry hopes to protect itself. “EMSSI represents an opportunity for companies and individuals who have benefited from the industry’s growth to give back,” EMSSI leaders said. “The more organizations and individuals contribute to the safety and security of conventions centers and related venues around the U.S., insuring we have established industry wide security guidelines and smart practices, the greater the industry will prosper for generations to come.”