Enhancing Events Safety

October 2023

Large events, whether they are music festivals, sports events, political rallies, or other public gatherings, are a hallmark of modern society. But while they usually bring people together for positive purposes, they also present unique challenges to law enforcement agencies tasked with maintaining public safety. In addition to requiring heightened readiness for issues such as medical emergencies, the unfortunate reality that these events can be targets for bad actors who seek to exploit the large crowds to commit violence, kidnapping or other criminal acts. Because these criminals usually plan or announce their activities publicly on social media or the dark web, many police departments now see social media analytics tools as invaluable assets in ensuring the safety of attendees, managing crowds, and responding swiftly to potential threats. In this blog post, we’ll explore how these tools are helping police monitor large events to keep them safe.

Before and during large events in their locales, police departments are increasingly using social media and dark web analytics tools to monitor public online chatter around the event for any indications of threats to public safety. For example, police investigators are able to search public online conversations for keywords that might indicate people making plans to commit acts of violent demonstration, kidnapping, terrorism, or other types of disruption. If analysts find evidence of such a plan, officers can identify, locate, and visit those planning the crimes to interview them, assess how real and serious the threat is, and deter the harmful activity. At the very least, they can adjust the security at these events in anticipation of what may happen.

As former Pelham, Alabama Police Chief Pat Cheatwood explains, “The best thing to me is the keyword search. You can set them up for a week, day, or hour and they can notify you every time they get a match.” Cheatwood, now an Investigations Specialist with Voyager Labs, advises police departments on how to search publicly available content across the open web and dark web for specific keywords and phrases, slang terms, and even emoji combinations. The best investigative tools can search in 100 different languages, so translation is no issue. This automated monitoring of public posts across social media sites and other open sources might otherwise require at least three investigators working around the clock.

When asked to assess the value of these monitoring tools, law enforcement professionals cite multiple capabilities and related public safety benefits:

  1. Real-time Situational Awareness
    Social media platforms have become a primary means for individuals to share publicly their thoughts, experiences, and observations in real-time. During large events, attendees often turn to social media to post public updates, photos, and videos. Social media analytics tools enable law enforcement to tap into this wealth of publicly available information to gain insights into crowd behavior, potential threats, or emergency situations.
  2. Early Warning System on Potential Threats
    One of the most significant advantages of web monitoring tools is their ability to serve as an early warning system. These tools can detect keywords, phrases, or patterns of behavior that may indicate a threat or emerging problem. For example, public posts containing words like “suspicious,” “panic,” or “emergency” can trigger alerts, allowing law enforcement to respond promptly and prevent potential crises.
  3. Crowd Management Optimization
    Large gatherings often require meticulous crowd management to prevent overcrowding, stampedes, and other safety hazards. Analytics tools can provide law enforcement with real-time data on crowd density and movement. By analyzing public posts related to an event, authorities can make informed decisions about crowd control and adjust security measures accordingly.
  4. Rapid Emergency Response
    In the event of an emergency or security breach, rapid response is crucial. With the right tools, law enforcement professionals can quickly identify incidents reported publicly on social media. Whether it’s a medical emergency, a disturbance, or a potential act of violence, these tools enable authorities to respond swiftly and allocate resources where needed.
  5. Public Engagement and Communication
    In addition to monitoring, social media tools can facilitate communication between law enforcement and event attendees. Police departments can use these platforms to disseminate important information, such as safety guidelines, emergency contact numbers, and evacuation instructions. This direct communication helps create a sense of security among attendees and fosters cooperation.


In an era where social media plays a central role in our lives, it’s no surprise that it has also become a critical tool for law enforcement agencies tasked with ensuring public safety during large events. Web public data monitoring tools provide real-time insights, serve as early warning systems, aid in crowd management, enable rapid responses to emergencies, and support intelligence gathering efforts. As technology continues to advance, the integration of social media monitoring tools into event security protocols will likely become even more seamless and effective. By harnessing the power of these tools, police departments can better protect the safety and well-being of attendees at large events, fostering an environment where people can gather and celebrate with confidence.

Adds Cheatwood, “The peace of mind that this technology offers is priceless. Being able to monitor public online chatter 24 hours a day, without having to have an officer or analyst at a computer around the clock, is a great way to give city and county leaders the peace of mind they need for their communities.”


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