DHS offers stadium tool

International Association of Assembly Managers

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To improve security at large-capacity stadiums, Homeland Security Department officials are offering an online self-assessment application for security managers to identify vulnerabilities at such public venues.

The Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool (VSAT) is expected to help owners, operators and security managers of large stadiums establish a baseline for each facility, identifying strengths and weaknesses in security programs. The current application is designed for more than 400 large-capacity stadiums, each of which seats more than 30,000 people, but it will be expanded for arenas, convention centers and performing arts centers later this year.

VSAT was modeled after similar applications used by the Transportation Security Administration for airports and other transportation facilities and systems, according to a DHS press release. DHS officials worked closely with the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM), the 80-year-old international association representing public assembly facilities, to develop the tool.

The potential 3,500-plus stadium managers who could participate in the initiative would be given a password-protected Web address to access VSAT. A help-desk service will also be provided. The tool would also be available to non-IAAM members.

VSAT focuses on seven areas that include topics such as information security, physical assets, communication security and personnel security. Users can generate and update a comprehensive report to identify a facility's current security plan and offer best practices for improvements. DHS officials said facility information that is exchanged with owners or operators would remain confidential. But they will be able to compare their security practices at stadiums with others nationwide.

"Americans should feel safe and be able to have an enjoyable experience at sports and entertainment venues," Frank Libutti, undersecretary of the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate, said in a prepared statement.

"We recognized and listened to the security needs of stadium owners and operators, leading us to create a resource tool that could identify best practices and allow them to better assess their own security plans and any potential vulnerabilities," he added. "Our goal is to encourage stadium managers to integrate this tool into their standard planning process and use it throughout the year."

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