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Grappling with risks prompted by COVID-19 and escalating violence, Americans prefer modern, touchless security screening systems over legacy metal detectors. They expect their schools, workplaces and ticketed venues to ensure social distancing and would abandon their plans rather than enter a facility with crowded security lines.

These and other insights were released by Evolv Technology, a company specializing in touchless screening, based on a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll. The survey was conducted online with more than 1,500 American adults who have a personal stake in the security screening experience: consumers who attended ticketed events in 2019 (n=506), parents of school-aged children (n=712), and workers at large factories, warehouses and distribution centers (n=504)1.

Americans rate COVID-19 and the overall pandemic response as a top issue facing the country (83% say they are very or somewhat concerned). This did not, however, diminish their concerns about social violence, responding that they are very or somewhat concerned about mass shootings (83%), street crime (81%) and protest-related civil unrest (81%). All three groups believe that the risk of public violence is getting worse (70%) and nearly 3 in 10 (28%) express that they felt unsafe going out in public.

Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) Americans value the general sense of safety that physical security measures provide, and over half (54%) believe there is deterrent value in those measures. Significant majorities also agree, though, that traditional metal detector screening measures introduce unacceptable risks in the pandemic environment. Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) feel that metal detectors create long lines, and two-thirds (67%) feel that metal detectors create crowds that violate social distancing guidelines. A majority also believe that metal detectors require belongings to be touched by a security guard (70%), require pat down searches (52%), generate too many false positives (58%) and force families to separate during screening (57%).

When asked to consider how specific safety and security measures affected their likelihood of returning to venues and facilities, nearly 9 in 10 (87%) of Americans said were likely to return if touchless security screening was in place. A majority of Americans surveyed say they would prefer touchless security screening (52%) over metal detector screening (48%) if given a choice between the two at identical events. Touchless security screening that allows visitors to walk through with bags and pocket contents intact was preferred over metal detector screening that requires separate bag checks and emptying pockets before screening.

Evolv Technology Co-founder Anil Chitkara and Erica Parker, managing director at The Harris Poll, will review the research results and discuss the implications for workplaces, schools, ticketed venues and other facilities on the November 12 episode of Evolv’s Digital Threshold Live webcast series. Learn more and register here.

Evolv is leading the digital transformation of physical security, one that is touchless and addresses the ‘new normal’ threat of pandemic viruses as well as concealed weapons. Using AI software and powerful sensors, Evolv Express can screen up to 3,600 people per hour – 10 times faster than legacy approaches such as metal detectors, hand wands and manual inspections. The system enables social distancing at entrances and other security checkpoints while minimizing person-to-person interaction—requiring no stopping, no emptying of pockets or removing bags. People being screened simply walk through naturally, alleviating potential crowding and long lines while greatly reducing contact between guests, employees and security staff. 

Deployed worldwide, Evolv’s touchless security screening systems have been used to screen more than 50 million individuals in an expedient, respectful manner. Customers include Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, L.L. Bean, Wynn Las Vegas, Oakland International Airport, two South Carolina school districts, Hersheypark, Set Jet, the Biltmore Estate, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and hundreds of others. By using Evolv Express, organizations optimize the performance of their security teams while reducing screening expenses by as much as 70%.

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