Scoring a Touchdown with Social Media

This post originally appeared on Chris Adamczyk’s Linked-In Account in August, 2015

It’s that time of year again. Stadiums are cleaned, fantasy leagues are formed, and season ticket holders clear their Sundays. Football arrives with the same fanfare as Christmas morning, complete with special meals, family gatherings, and drunken comedy. Amidst the joviality in parking lots and stadium concourses, lone offenders lurk and creep their way from victim to victim. Oftentimes fans are so enamored with the exhilaration of  a “red zone” drive, they don’t realize they’ve fallen prey to a nefarious actor disguised as a fellow devotee.

It is a an expensive paradox that despite millions of dollars dumped into physical security and intrusive safety measures, crime still occurs in and around modern stadiums. Interestingly, the one security measure seemingly overlooked, yet ever present, is the personal interest each fan takes in ensuring they have a good time. Chief in that concern is how they communicate, albeit inadvertently, information about crime, suspicious activity, and disruptions. Law enforcement and security just need be in the right place to read what the fans are saying.

Enter, social media monitoring. Whether it’s a football game or a choral concert, attendees can’t wait to show where they are and what they are doing. Unique in sporting events is the sheer volume of social media sharing. Pictures, videos, and “tweets” create a river-like flow of data from each stadium across the country. Within the thousands of packets of data are clues to determining what is happening in the venue. This includes comments about a brewing fight, pictures of a skulking person near the bathroom, and comments about shady suspects avoiding security. A savvy real-time social media monitoring team will see these clues and begin gathering information and passing it to the incident commander.

The first question everyone asks after reading a paragraph like the previous is, “how?” The answer is relatively simple. There are several real-time social media monitoring platforms on the market that will help tread the rough waters of event driven sharing. Some are free and available as “add-ons” to existing accounts while others are third party apps requiring a financial investment. Of course the adage “you get what you pay for” rings true in this space, but the real return on investment comes when law enforcement and security plan their approach, diligently prepare, and communicate their findings effectively.

As Football season arrives, take time to think about the information your team is not capturing. Furthermore, take a moment to consider how the face of event security can change if we vector teams towards problems discovered and shared by fans, minutes before a “911” call is ever made.