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Conferences Track Attendees Via UHF RFID

The technology, provided by Global Registration Solutions, allows expositions and conferences to identify when attendees enter and leave specific areas or attempt to claim a free meal.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 08, 2013

North American Prospect Expos (NAPE), which runs business conferences for the oil and gas industry, is one of several event organizers employing an RFID-based solution from Global Registration Solutions (GRS) to identify traffic levels on conference floors, as well as monitor attendees at sessions and other events during the programs. The technology has also been installed at conferences managed by the National Black MBA Association (NBMBA), and the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), among others. By embedding an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag in each badge cover, and by then reading those tags at key locations, GRS is able to provide conference managers with such information as peak traffic times on the show floor, the number of people attending other specific events, each visitor's average length of stay on the floor and details necessary to manage the distribution of meals to attendees.

Since its founding in 2007, Global Registration Solutions has offered its software for registering event attendees at midsize conferences. However, the company recently added passive UHF RFID badges, readers and software to manage the collected read data. By deploying RFID technology, conference organizers can better identify how many people are present at key locations and at specific times, says Dale Bookout, one of the company's two cofounders. The firm offers RFID hardware purchased from Atlas RFID Solutions' retail business, atlasRFIDstore, which helped Global Registration Solutions identify the proper hardware for the solution. GRS is using a ThingMagic USB reader, an Impinj Speedway Revolution RFID reader and Smartrac DogBone UHF RFID tags.

To measure traffic at a party held during NAPE's conference, GRS installed an RFID antenna above the entranceway, as well as an antenna on the left and right sides.
NAPE is using the technology to track traffic onto the exhibition floor, as well as to monitor attendees during other activities, such as an introductory party held the evening prior to the show. With the RFID data, GRS can determine how many attend the evening event, how many come to the show floor and when this occurs. In this way, the company can better identify which activities are successful and which are less popular, as well as when the number of attendees may require increased or decreased staffing.

Prior to the event, GRS' staff members arrive onsite, bringing a ThingMagic USB Plus+ reader to encode a unique ID number to the tag built into each badge sleeve. Impinj fixed readers are installed at entrances to the show floor, as well as in session rooms, if necessary. The interrogators are powered by a Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) cable that also connects the reader to GRS' server.

Event attendees sign up online for the conferences, and then arrive at the registration desk to sign in on the day of the event. At that time, a new badge listing that individual and his or her credentials is printed and then placed in the RFID-enabled badge sleeve. The sleeve's unique ID is linked to that person in the software, and the badge is handed to him or her on a lanyard. As that visitor proceeds through the conference, the badge's tag ID number is interrogated and forwarded to the GRS software every time he or she comes within range of a reader.

The software not only captures each ID number and links it to a specific individual, but also uses a reporting tool that analyzes read events and transmits the necessary data to clients, thereby identifying traffic patterns and what they mean to the show's success. For example, software calculates when each attendee arrives and leaves, how often that guest passes a specific area, and when traffic levels are high or low.

With RFID readers installed at session rooms, the system can also enable the event to provide conference education unit (CEU) credits to those in attendance, by supplying proof of when each visitor entered and exited a particular session and thus obtained a specific type of instruction. The event management can forward those details to the attendees, or to their employers, for the CEU credits.

USER COMMENTS

Dusan Pearson 2015-09-02 05:19:54 AM
Thank you so much for sharing such informative and knowledgeable post attendee tracking through RFID. It’s really awesome; I will definitely recommend everyone who are planning to organice any conference or corporate event to read this post. It will be very helpfull to make their event more successfull.

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