Venue Intelligence: Real-Time Counts and Alerts

Today, you can optimize the operations, capacity, and security of an event through venue intelligence. However, hospitality and entertainment venues have had to face setbacks due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Real Time Counts and Venue Capacity Management with RFID

Real-Time Counts and Alerts: What Can You Do?

Event organizers can check accurate counts of the total number of individuals present on the venue premises. The occupancy counting is a visual monitoring system that allows you to check multiple areas of a building. You can preview the live totals on a tablet-mode style screen.

You can use the same display to assign more visual parameters and alerts in specific areas of the venue. What’s interesting is that you don’t necessarily have to be at the event to monitor its total crowd capacity. You can use a mobile device and send visual texts or alerts to the onsite staff about the current capacity limits.

Here is how businesses can comply with occupancy regulations through real-time alerts and counts:

  • You can set occupancy warnings and alerts by mail or text
  • You can view the live crowd occupancy remotely and locally
  • You can see total people in each room, floor, and the entire building
  • You can view the occupancy data on a digital dashboard screen
  • You can review historical crowd occupancy for future events
  • You can check up on real-time crowd counts to ensure health and safety compliance
  • Assign warnings and alerts when crowd capacity reaches near the limit
  • Your network systems can exchange crowd occupancy data over a secure server
  • Count exact number of leaving and entering the venue
  • Count number of people leaving and entering the venue per hour or day
  • Restrict people with credentials entering the event until a specific number of people leave

Customizable Real-time Alerts

You can configure specific real-time alerts in certain scenarios. It means you can customize the total count of people in a defined venue space and add queues about capacity reaching the limit. You can even notify appearances of individuals as per their appearance.

Track Occupancy and Avoid Crowding

You can assign security parameters to VIP areas to avoid security breaches. Visually, you can see on the display total occupancy and analytics options. You can even integrate cloud-based software and create dedicated crowd occupancy reports.

Again, it is the freedom to assign separate alerts when the total capacity reaches near or exceeds the venue capacity that makes all the difference. With a single log-in, you can see the visual dashboard and review the people count virtually. When the crowd occupancy breaches the limit of the venue, the display will show red alerts.

Conclusion

Venue managers no longer have to hire dozens of venue management staff to maintain crowd limits in an event. In fact, event organizers can now review real-time counts and alerts through venue intelligence. It revolves around a combination of tech advancements that makes it easier for event organizers to keep an eye on an event’s total crowd capacity.

In retrospect, real-time awareness helps the event organizers remain proactive about the total crowd capacity. It functions as a prompt intervention at multiple interval points and helps maintain venue operations without crossing crowd occupancy issues. 

Curious to learn more about real-time counts and venue intelligence? Contact Weldon, Williams & Lick today for a free quote

Use Venue Intelligence to Plan Smarter Events

Venue Intelligence for access control and capacity management

Venue intelligence is knowing who is doing what, when and where, and then drawing conclusions about why. RFID credentials are a simple but essential tool to learn what you need to know about how your guests experience your venue.

Smart homes and the smart things in them are all about what they do: adjust the thermostat, turn the lights on and off, moderate energy usage, reorder something that’s running low in the refrigerator. “Smart” buildings are smart at the level of computers: they help us out through clever and convenient applications of stimulus and response. But they lack actual intelligence. We still need humans for that, and humans need information. Lots of it.

Venue-wide RFID systems provide facility managers what they need to make their building operations truly intelligent. Operators are limited only by their creativity in thinking of what information they want and how they need to lay out their in-venue system to gather it.

Intelligent venues have satisfied customers

Nearly all applications of venue intelligence relate to improving the fan experience. RFID systems provide immediate as well as long-term data about crowd behavior at your venue.

RFID sensors can identify real-time hot spots, areas that have a higher than usual or disproportionate number of attendees at a given time. For example, even though your concession areas are evenly distributed around the venue, they don’t always have an evenly distributed share of concession-buying fans at a given time. Receipts can only give you part of the picture: the sales that happened. They can’t tell you how many people grew frustrated waiting in line and therefore went back to their seats unsatisfied. They don’t tell you how many people stopped in front of one stand before making their purchase from another, a possible indication that there’s something superficially appealing about that stand that doesn’t hold up to customer scrutiny and decision-making.

The intelligence provided by RFID sensors can cue you in to which concessionaires are falling short of their potential: the ones who attract interest but do not convert at the same levels as others; the ones that always seem to get the overflow from other stands, perhaps indicating a logistics or personnel issue; or those that may do better elsewhere in the venue.

How could RFID inform amenity placement decisions?

RFID does not just track bodies moving through space. RFID connects your guests to your venues. You’ll know something about those people who are deciding to make a purchase or not, or the ones who seem just on the edge of trying something new before going back to their old standby.

By connecting each visitor’s RFID credential to your CRM – something very easy to do with RFID-enabled tickets – you’ll have insights into how well your venue is matching your fans.

Maybe it was a mistake to put your top-line food & beverage outlets close to your hard-core supporters’ seating area. On the surface, it made sense to make your A-list offerings convenient to your A-list fans. But they’re there to watch the game, not sample this week’s presentation of locally-sourced chef-prepared meals. Meanwhile, you noticed that your more casual fans are making the trip to the far side of the stadium because they come for the full venue experience, of which the game is only one part of many. They may not attend as regularly and buy as much merchandise, but they are much more likely to share the game, the food and their seats on social media.

Now that you know that fans and foodies are two distinct parts of your audience, you can better cater to both.

In-the-moment venue intelligence for the most pressing fan needs

Data sourced from RFID systems often has immediate and long-term applications. For many fans, few aspects of their in-venue experience has as much immediacy as going to the bathroom. Unlike food and merchandise sales, that’s one thing that will never have in-seat service.

RFID can let you know how long the lines are at the bathrooms in your venue, and you can then relay that information to your fans. Fans can check the venue app to know which restroom has the shortest line before getting out of their seats: maybe it’ll be quicker to go to the one a little farther away. Display boards on the concourse can direct people to the most convenient restroom based on distance and wait-time. They can then decide if it’s worth the trip, or if they should hold out so they don’t miss the start of the bottom of the inning.

RFID connects fan traffic flow to sales and sponsorship revenue

Everyone marvels at the seemingly chaotic but perfectly coordinated movement of a flock of birds. Look closely enough – not with your eyes, but with data – and you might find something just as interesting and much more lucrative about your fans.

Like receipts and concessions, watching the entry and exit points of your facility only gives you part of the picture. RFID sensors can show you how people get around your venue. Are they doing it intelligently?

Perhaps people are still taking the long way around because, in your venue’s early days, there was a poorly designed bottleneck that you have since fixed. But because the attendees have not changed their behavior, they are taking an inefficient route and creating a new bottleneck. And maybe that’s why sales are so low at certain concession areas. Receipt data only tells you that their revenue is low. RFID-sourced fan behavior data tells you that they are converting the same number of passers-by as all the others, they simply do not enjoy the same foot traffic.

Similarly, are as many people as possible seeing your sponsor activation zones? Do you even know how many are?

A sponsor unhappy with their conversion rate may consider not renewing their contract or spending a lot of money in a new effort, when the responsibility lies with the venue. If you can figure that out and make amends before the sponsor does and make demands, you’ll be in a better position with that relationship. And, with the additional fan data, you can better price your sponsorships going forward.

RFID is the necessary link of venue intelligence

Venue intelligence is the next step in facility design and management. It’s as much about integrating existing information as it is gathering new data.

RFID credentials link what you know about your fans to the fans themselves and then to your venue, providing you with individual and aggregate data that you can use in the moment and for planning capital upgrades. Contact WW&L when you’re ready to take your venue from smart to intelligent.

RFID in Sports: Athlete Performance & Event Tracking

RFID Technology in the NFL

RFID in sports has been a literal game changer.

It wasn’t all that long ago when any inventory of commonly used athlete performance and event results tracking equipment included popsicle sticks.

High school cross country runners would cross the finish line and receive a popsicle stick with a number on it: their place among the finishers. Alongside the person handing out the sticks was someone else noting the time the runner finished: “#5: 18:21…. #41: 20:02… #137: 23:10…” The runners would then hand the popsicle sticks to someone else, who would record the athlete’s name, placing and school. The meet staff would then convene to connect all these data points to determine which team won, and post the final individual results and team scores. Waiting to find out how everyone did and who won sometimes took longer than the race itself. Not to mention, half a million cross country runners per year, each doing 4-6 races, add in a large number of low tech (well, at the time, industry-standard) college races… that’s a lot of popsicle sticks.

Today, even the most low budget races use RFID chips to track runners’ times and finish places. A chip or band tied onto the shoelaces or built into the back of their number bib communicates with mats laid across the start and finish lines. These combine for accurate and instant results, with the times reported relative to both the starter’s gun and when each athlete actually crossed the start line.

RFID personnel tracking enables instant, accurate results at scale for high school cross country races with a few hundred athletes to international marathons with 40,000 participants. Throughout the sports performance world, this combination of attributes – instant, accurate, scalable along every dimension – have made RFID technology almost as ubiquitous as sticks, balls and barbells.

RFID personnel tracking for the highest-level movements

Race directors working on a scale of miles and minutes only need one data point resolvable to seconds, maybe tenths of a second. Sports performance coaches, on the other hand, study their athletes moving in all directions over fractions of a meter, so they need sampling rates in the hundredths of a second.

The National Football League was the first major sports league to track player movements using RFID. Since RFID tags can be placed on a runner’s shoe or shirt without impacting their performance, it was quite easy to embed them on a football player.

Each player had an RFID tag nestled into his shoulder pad. The tag communicated with RFID sensors placed around the stadium, producing 3-dimensional positional data hundreds of times per second, which comes together in movement traces that can be visualized and analyzed in real-time by the play-calling coaches and scrutinized for hours by the sports science staff after the game. As quick and agile as the players are with every cut, spin and jump, the sensors catch it all.

RFID sensors can handle anything sport throws or swings at them

The size of RFID sensors gives them an advantage over GPS sensors used in sports training and performance. Particularly in a high impact sport like football, you don’t want anything that could break upon impact or bruise the player. The ability to embed an RFID sensor in a pad eased the technology’s adoption in the NFL.

Another advantage of RFID over GPS is that RFID can work indoors or outdoors. Teams that use GPS sensors don’t need to set up any equipment in their facility – the satellites are always there. But those sensors are only usable if the game is outdoors. What about indoor training facilities or covered stadiums? And what about indoor sports?

All of these factors converge in the National Hockey League: a high-paced, high contact, indoor (except for the Winter Classic) sport.

The NHL announced their RFID tracking ambitions in January 2019. Not only would they be tracking the players, they’d be tracking the puck. Think about it: an RFID sensor can be placed in a chunk of frozen vulcanized rubber that gets slapped around continuously, sometimes being whacked so hard it travels over 90 miles per hour before colliding with a metal goal post or pane of Plexiglass or high-density plastic boards. And yet it’s so inexpensive that teams can go through several pucks each game, allowing any RFID-enhanced puck that goes out of play to go home with the lucky fan who snags it.

Sport performance insights from RFID personnel tracking data

Like so many other areas in Big Data, the more time practitioners spend with RFID-generated sports performance data, the more applications they find.

When the NFL introduced RFID personnel tracking in 2016, they emphasized the player performance and development aspects.

Head coaches talked about how they could better devise and call plays based on the precise insights they could have about a player. If you know a player’s ability to change directions decreases significantly with fatigue, you’re not going to call a play that requires him to sprint 20 meters and make a double-cut inside late in the fourth-quarter, especially if the real-time data is telling your sports science team that he’s already starting to lag a bit.

The sports scientists and performance coaches, then, saw the potential for more individualized training. They would know an athlete’s areas for improvement over the course of a season and from game to game; they would be alerted to any changes that may indicate an increased risk of injury; and they could validate their approach by continuously monitoring his performance. The data also gave them a new route to gaining athlete buy-in: they can show the athlete precisely why they are doing something, starting with in-game data highlighting where and how he could be better.

The NFL also saw a shared component to the RFID tracking data. By making a certain amount of data open to all teams, coaches can better prepare for their opponents and improve their in-game strategies. Looking into the future, they saw the potential for a more data-driven draft day if colleges started adopting and sharing this data.

The National Hockey League sees similar RFID applications on the performance side, and adds an enhanced fan experience to it. They are experimenting with streaming options where each fan can choose what data to display during the game: a box above each player’s head showing his speed or total distance skated, the speed of each pass or shot, or custom leaderboards for whatever you want to know.

Bringing RFID personnel tracking into more sports

The sports world offers one of the most comprehensive use cases for RFID tracking technology. RFID technology touches nearly every aspect of the industry’s operations, from improving the parking experience for the fans to tracking consumer behavior within the arena to teaching a player to make a 60-degree cut one-tenth of a second faster to letting a fan at home display on her screen what she wants to know about her favorite player.

Lots of things you can’t do with popsicle sticks.

Are you a sports industry professional? WW&L is ready to talk about whatever you think RFID can do for your team and organization. Call or e-mail us today to see how we can help you gather the data to earn a few more points or dollars next season.

RFID Personnel Tracking: Know Where They are and When They’re Working

RFID Personnel tracking and contact tracing

The real estate world no longer has the market cornered on “location, location, location.” With RFID personnel tracking, you can know everything from how many people are in your building to their precise location, who they are near and how they move about the space.

Before 2020, most people had never heard of the phrase “contact tracing.” Now it’s almost a way of life. Even if you haven’t downloaded a contact tracing app, chances are you’re more aware of how close you are to people, where you are close to them and for how long. That’s a lot for anyone to keep track of in the back of their mind. If you’re a facility manager, human resources or corporate health and safety professional, you obviously need something more reliable and more timely than a collection of individual memories and reports.

RFID personnel tracking systems can automate contact tracing in workplaces and venues open to the public. Each person entering the facility only needs to wear a lanyard, wristband or badge – all things they are likely wearing anyway – for them to show up in your RFID system. 

Close-range RFID Location Tracking for Contract Tracing and Employee Safety

Ultra high frequency (UHF) systems can monitor employees’ and visitors’ locations to within a few feet. These systems require RFID readers to be placed throughout the facility in order to pick up the signal from each person’s device. Tracking software will let you know the time and proximity of every interaction in your facility. While this may seem intrusive at first glance, location data could be critical in high-risk, outbreak-prone environments like hospitals, long-term care facilities and food processing plants. And it may be the key to insurance coverage for the safe reopening of high capacity and high density venues like stadiums and arenas.

Beyond our current contact tracing concerns, precision RFID location tracking can greatly improve employee safety. In workplaces with a risk of high-impact emergencies, such as chemical plants or refineries, UHF systems can make rescue and evacuation as quick and safe as possible. Your monitoring staff can provide rescue teams with the exact location and identity of anyone remaining in an affected area. This minimizes the amount of time the responders have to put themselves at risk searching for a trapped or incapacitated employee.

Under more normal circumstances, employees crowding in one area on the job could exceed the load limits on a platform, or they may be needlessly exposing themselves to the risks of the work done in that area. The RFID tags could trigger a reminder for them to disperse, and for your health and safety team to target both workplace design and training.

Beyond Pandemics: RFID Personnel Tracking Systems Create Value

At conferences, RFID tracking can let you know which booths attracted the most visitors and the most engagement. Conference organizers can use this data to improve the layout and flow of the event space, while the sales and marketing team can update the price for vendor booths and sponsorship displays based on precise, real-world data of attendee behavior. The conference team can also share this information with their vendors to help them assess their return on investment in your event and plan how they go about future participation.

The attendees themselves can also take a stake in the location data their RFID tags are beaming out: the RFID personnel tracking software can map out their “social network” from the event. By tying this into your attendee management software, you can help them reinforce the relationships they made, while furthering understanding what value you provided and what opportunities you created for your attendees.

Similarly, sports stadiums and concert venues can use close-range UHF tracking to monitor the quality of the customer experience. If one concession area is full while another is almost empty, event staff can guide some people to the less crowded area, or deploy more staff to the overloaded area. By using RFID-enabled wristbands or lanyards (which double as a collectors’ item), you can match customer profiles to their preferences in food, beverage, merchandise and sponsor activations

Scalable RFID Access Controls

Medium- and short-range RFID tracking systems provide less detail than UHF, but still support the essential goals of safety, security and productivity.

These systems are the backbone of access control, whether it’s someone entering or leaving your property or passing from one room to the next.

RFID tracking lets you go beyond unlocking and locking doors to knowing who is actually going where, and for how long. With RFID tracking systems, an unauthorized person will not be able to “piggy back” into a restricted area with someone who has the proper access. You will be alerted to the breach immediately, and can take immediate action. Knowing that the system is in place both to control and monitor access will raise every employee’s level of vigilance around access control. Therefore minimizing the number of times your security and management teams will have to intervene.

Even the most basic RFID badging system will give you real-time data about how many people are on your premises. Down to whatever level of detail you wish to have. You can keep track by room, corridor, concourse, wing, building or campus – it just depends on how many RFID sensors you choose to install. Whether you are closing up for the night or taking a muster during an emergency, RFID access and tracking systems ensure you’ll never leave anyone behind (unless they take off their RFID tag, which would be an entirely different conversation to have).

Bring Precise Location Data into Your Company

RFID personnel tracking systems scale to whatever level of detail you want regarding who goes where on your property. Almost every business group in a company can use this data to improve safety, security and productivity.

“Location, location, location” is not just about your street address any more, but about where people are within that address. If you’re ready to introduce RFID tracking systems into your company or venue, WWL Inc will work with you to determine the right system and build-out to achieve your goals for your location while taking care of everyone inside it. Contact us now to learn more.

RFID vs NFC: What is the Difference?

rfid and nfc technology use and differences

When it comes to communication-based acronyms, they can be easy to get confused. In this case, our article’s focus is RFID and NFC. These two reasonably similar scanning technologies are in a variety of tracking applications. With this in mind, what are the significant differences between RFID and NFC?

The short answer: RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, a one-way communication method at varying distances. NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a version that allows for two-way communication. NFC is not totally contactless, typically requiring devices to be within a few inches of each other. 

In this article, we will be digging into more details about what makes RFID and NFC so different from each other. We will also be getting into some applications you see them used.

What is RFID?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a one-way communication method utilizing tags. These tags do not use any electricity and are found using an RFID scanner. The scanner can notice the RFID tags, but they have no additional uses on their own. 

RFID scanners are useful because you can also scan them at a distance of several feet. That makes them incredibly useful for scanning parking tags, as the entrance gate can open as the correct tags approach. As you may expect, this is what makes RFID different from NFC. 

The frequency level dictates RFID’s distance:

  • Low frequency (LF) is the shortest
  • High frequency (HF) is a medium distance
  • Ultra-high frequency (UHF) can go up to ten feet.

LF and HF ranges are relatively limited, typically within a few inches. UHF is more appropriate for long-range applications, as this frequency can scan out several feet. Neither of the above options is inherently better than the other. The only difference is in the distance, which makes RFID appropriate for a variety of applications.

RFID tags also come in two different forms of transponders:

  • Active tags 
  • Passive tags

Active tags are unique among RFID tags because they are continually transferring a signal out. That means as the active RFID tag approaches a scanner, the scanner recognizes the signal being transmitted. While you might be worried about battery life with active tags, RFID tags’ battery life is a decade.

Passive RFID tags do not have any battery, so they last much longer. As a result, these last much longer than active tags. Passive tags take their power from the available scanner. Passive tags are also far smaller, allowing them to be less noticeable. 

How Is RFID Used?

RFID is best for keeping tabs on your assets. For example, RFID can be used to track more expensive items in a retail environment. So if someone decides to stuff a PS5 in their shirt, the RFID tag will cause alarms to go off.

As a result of the passive usage, RFID tags are also great for the supply chain management. Suppose you need to find out whether some of your supplies have passed through a checkpoint. In that case, RFID tags are an inexpensive option for tracking your inventory’s location. 

UHF RFID can scan for things several feet away. Because of this, they are great for parking structures and lots where someone isn’t actively patrolling them. Typically, you purchase a tag to place on the front of your car, and you use that tag to gain access to their parking. 

Below are a couple of other examples of what you can use RFID tracking for:

What Is NFC?

Near Field Communication (NFC) is born of the same technology like RFID. The most significant difference comes with peer-to-peer communication. Rather than the scanner receiving or sending information, both ends can receive and give up information. 

NFC is also only usable at short-range communication. As a result, NFC technology needs to be incredibly close to each other. Your smartphone uses NFC technology for a variety of applications we will get into later. 

NFC typically comes in two different modes: 

  • Peer-to-peer (P2P)
  • Card emulation

Card emulation settings on your NFC device emulate the usage of credit or debit cards. As a result, this allows people who would typically forget their credit cards to have an additional payment method. This also allows for contactless payment, which reduces the spread of germs. 

P2P communication allows you to share information between two different smartphones. Suppose you have ever seen the setting on your phone to communicate with nearby devices based on proximity. By merely locating your phones nearby each other, you can send images and other documents. 

NFC communications do not have to be limited to smartphones. As smart technology is installed into every aspect of our lives, we will (and currently are) seeing more applications.

How Is NFC Used?

We’ve already mentioned the usage of smartphone applications. NFC applications are most popular in contactless payment and data transfer. 

Given that data comes in many forms, you can also use NFC to use the same applications. This means you can feasibly play the same game or see the same schedule on each of your phones. Data, in this case, refers to any shared experience on your phone. 

You can also use it for a variety of other applications:

  • Data transfer of instructions from a smartphone to a smart device.
  • Unlocked router by having your smartphone transfer the password
  • Having a chip under your skin that transfers health data to a doctor’s smart device 

Bluetooth vs. NFC

People are often comparing NFC and Bluetooth due to their similar applications. You pair devices, they communicate P2P, so why should I bother with NFC when Bluetooth is more popular?

Bluetooth may have an allowance for longer distances, but NFC requires less power and faster speed. You cannot transfer payments via Bluetooth with greater ease because each person would take about a minute to connect to a Bluetooth payment

FAQs

What frequencies are RFID and NFC at?

NFC systems are on 13.56 MHz, which is the same as high-frequency RFID waves. Low-frequency RFID waves are at around 125 kHz, while UHF RFID varies from 868-930 MHz.

How Secure Is NFC?

Typically speaking, payment information is encrypted between the two connections. An incredibly committed hacker can get access to the data. To prevent this, keep the devices active only for the period that you need them. 

Which is better, RFID or NFC?

Neither is better; RFID and NFC are used in different ways. RFID is great for tracking your assets and allowing the right people inside. NFC is great for transmitting information between two locations.

Can NFC read RFID?

If the two are at the same frequency (HF), RFID can read certain tags. Given that an NFC is both a scanner and a passive object built together, they can work together. As a result, NFC scanners can also scan some passive tags.

What’s the difference between passive and active tags?

Active tags are continually transmitting a signal to RFID scanners. Passive tags do not release any information. Instead, passive tags gather their energy and information from active scanners for limited communication.

Final Thoughts on Differences of RFID and NFC

RFID and NFC both use similar communication styles. However, they have incredibly different types of applications. For this reason, neither can be deemed more useful than the other unless you narrow their usage down to specific applications.

NFC is great for P2P applications. You can use them to transfer data between smartphones. They are most often used in contactless payment methods, but are not truly considered contactless.

RFID is great for asset tracking, so you can know where your inventory is. Ultra-High Frequency options also can control and grant access, among other extraordinary things.

While the two have a similar general idea, their usage is almost entirely different.