Commercial Sector Snapshot: Public Assembly

Sub-Sector Information

The Public Assembly Sub-Sector is part of the Commercial Facilities Sector and includes convention centers, auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, movie theaters, nightclubs, entertainment districts, cultural properties, and other assets where large numbers of people congregate. Cultural properties are defined as museums, zoos, planetariums, aquariums, libraries, and performance venues.

New Jersey has large sporting and concert venues, including MetLife Stadium, the Prudential Center, the Monmouth Park Racetrack, the PNC Bank Arts Center, and BB&T Pavilion, as well as aquariums and zoos. Atlantic City hosts the Miss America Pageant and is home to the Atlantic City Convention Center, one of the largest exhibition spaces on the East Coast.

Threat

Terrorism: Moderate

Homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) are the highest threat to the Public Assembly Sub-Sector in New Jersey. Foreign terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qa’ida and its affiliates, continue to encourage HVEs to conduct attacks on soft targets.

  • In July 2016, a truck plowed through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the coastal city of Nice, France, killing at least 84 people and injuring 202.

  • In June 2016, Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 inside a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Law enforcement officers shot and killed Mateen when they stormed the building and freed 30 hostages.

  • In November 2015, ISIS claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks in Paris, beginning with three suicide bombers attempting to enter France’s national stadium during a soccer match and ending at the Bataclan theater, where three gunmen entered the venue and killed 89 people.

  • In May 2015, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi attempted to attack attendees at a “Draw the Prophet Muhammad” cartoon contest at a convention center in Garland, Texas. Law enforcement officers killed Simpson and Soofi after they wounded a security guard. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Cyber: Low

The Public Assembly Sub-Sector is susceptible to financially motivated cyber criminals seeking to extract sensitive data and sell it for a profit on the black market. Malicious hackers could exploit vulnerabilities within computer systems, software, networks, and point-of-sale (PoS) payment systems to steal customer payment card numbers or compromise sensitive company information. Cyber threats against this sector include malicious software, social engineering, web application attacks, PoS intrusions, payment card skimmers, and the exploitation of zero-day and unpatched system vulnerabilities. Additionally, sophisticated threat actors can exploit vulnerabilities in industrial control systems to cause power outages or disrupt other facility functions.

Preparedness

NJOHSP provides resources on potential threats, indicators of terrorist activity, and protective measures for nightclubs and entertainment districts.

Active shooter training and exercises can prepare the Public Assembly Sub-Sector to recognize and respond to potential threats.

The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi provides training and research to advance sports safety and security. NCS4 works with professional leagues, open-access events, and intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics, along with professional associations, private-sector firms, and government agencies. NCS4 offers multiple training workshops approved by the US Department of Homeland Security, including: 

Intelligence Gaps

  • What terrorist groups are most capable of planning an attack against the Public Assembly Sub-Sector in the United States?
     
  • What methods are criminal hackers using to infect PoS terminals at public venues with malware?
     
  • What cyber attacks could terrorist or hacktivist groups launch against public venues?

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at preparedness@njohsp.gov.