By John McHale
WASHINGTON Officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) directorate developed an online Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool (VSAT) for large stadiums.
Working with the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM), this tool enables stadium security managers to identify vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks and similar disasters and assess the overall security of their public assembly facility.
“Our goal is to encourage stadium managers to integrate this tool into their standard planning process and use it throughout the year,” says Frank Libutti, the DHS Under Secretary of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection.
Modeled after self-assessment tools at the Transportation Security Administration, the online stadium tool uses industry safety and security best practices for critical infrastructure to assist in establishing a security baseline for each facility.
Once a baseline is established, the tool identifies the strengths of current security programs as well as areas in need of improvement, and helps security experts rank necessary enhancements to the facility, DHS officials say. While the current tool is designed for more than 400 stadiums that seat more than 30,000 people, it will expand to arenas, convention centers, and performing arts centers in 2005.
“We trust that the result of this launch will be that many stadium operators will implement it in their facilities,” says Dexter King, executive director, International Association of Assembly Managers. “Using this program will help managers of public assembly facilities better protect their patrons and the venues they serve.”
Working with IAAM, the Department will have access to more than 3,500 public assembly facility managers. This tool will also be made available to non-IAAM members. The Department will contact stadium general managers for participation in this initiative and provide a password-protected Web address to access the online assessment tool, DHS officials say.
The self-assessment tool is user-friendly, and focuses on seven key areas that include such topics as information security, physical assets, communication security, and personnel security. Upon completion, a comprehensive report can be printed or updated at any time, measuring the effectiveness of the facility’s current security plan and providing best practices for implementing future improvements to the facility’s security program.
By submitting the information to DHS, the owners or operators will be given the ability to compare their security practices with other large stadiums across the country. All information given to and corresponding reports from DHS are confidential to the facility and will not be made available to other parties.
The online tool will also be coupled with a help desk to clarify terminology or assist with technical issues while completing the assessment, company officials say.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) Directorate serves as the focal point for intelligence analysis, infrastructure protection operations, and information sharing.
IAIP merges the capability to identify and assess a broad range of intelligence and information concerning threats to the homeland, maps that information against the Nation’s vulnerabilities, issues warnings, and takes preventive and protective measures to protect infrastructures and key assets, company officials say. For more information go online at www.dhs.gov.