Event Management

RIMS Enhances Security Measures for RISKWORLD in San Diego

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Skift Take

Extra security precautions were put in place at this year’s RIMS RISKWORLD conference in San Diego after an active shooter situation shut down the final day of the 2023 conference in Atlanta.

A shooting two-and-a-half miles away from last year’s RISKWORLD was too close for comfort for RIMS, the risk management society. The 2023 edition of the society’s main event, held at the Georgia World Congress Center, was cut short when RIMS canceled the final general session and closing party and vowed to enhance security.

This year’s conference just closed in San Diego. Here is how that was accomplished.

“We learned a lot of lessons from the Atlanta experience about making sure that we are more connected to city officials and police departments,” said Stuart Ruff-Lyon, chief events & sales officer at RIMS.

Ruff-Lyon will share this experience and more during next week’s Skift Meetings Destination Experience Summit, which will be held on May 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST.

Expanding Security Plan

As an association dedicated to advancing risk management, RIMS takes such emergencies seriously. “This is the kind of thing that can happen in any city to any size convention or event. We learned a lot that day. We had a 73-page crisis management plan. But most of it focused on the convention center itself,” says Gary LaBranche, CEO of RIMS. “From here on in, if we are having a citywide convention, we will have a citywide safety and security plan.”

And that is what it did in San Diego at this year’s convention, which was held May 5-8. There were 10,297 risk management professionals onsite, 300 exhibitors, and 300 speakers.

The event app sent an alert about the active shooter during last year’s convention. “The reality is only about half of attendees download the app. And then of course, there’s ways to mute the notifications,” says LaBranche.

To alleviate this, this year, all registrants provided their cell phone numbers, which would only be used in an emergency.

RIMS also employed the services of global security consulting firm Merrill Herzog. They help with events like F1, major concerts, and outdoor festivals.

Emergency Notification Technology

In addition, Gabriel, a security technology developed in Israel, was deployed at the San Diego conference. LaBranche said this was the first time Gabriel was used at a convention. This smart technology is an intuitive emergency mass notification platform. When Gabriel was activated, a unified command center was notified at the convention center.

Convention center cameras were monitored, and so were the internet and dark web, focusing on applicable hashtags.

Attendees could only enter the San Diego Convention Center through one set of doors where magnetometer security was installed. Bag searches, uniformed police officers, and canine units were also employed.

The incident in Atlanta was “instructive and illustrative,” says LaBranche. “Illustrative of the realities of having a convention these days as all it takes is one person with a gun or bad intent.”

Attendees and exhibitors appreciated RIMS’s enhanced security efforts, which will continue at next year’s conference in Chicago.

“We’re already working with the bureau,” says Ruff-Lyon. “Five weeks from now we’ll be in Chicago delivering a fam trip for our exhibitors and sponsors about RISKWORLD 2025. It’s a huge collaborative effort with the CVB or DMO.”

RIMS is also teaming with ASIS and ASAE to develop a risk management toolkit. In addition, a documentary is being produced focused on what happened in Atlanta and the security enhancements that have been added as a result.