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RFID Speeds Coliseum's Emergency Response

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is using AeroScout active tags in VenueSoft handheld units to alert the necessary responders to an emergency throughout the stadium.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 01, 2008To expedite responses to emergencies and other incidents requiring assistance, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is using a communication system that includes active RFID tags provided by AeroScout and software from VenueSoft. The arena, home to the Oakland Athletics, Raiders and Golden State Warriors, is equipping 150 stadium employees with handheld RFID devices they can use to send alerts that specify the type and location of a problem.

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which seats 62,000 people and hosts 100 events annually, had, like most other large stadiums, provided two-way radios to usher supervisors so they can report incidents during events. The radios let the supervisors speak to the coliseum's dispatch center, located at the ground floor of the facility, in order to describe the nature of the difficulty and the location.

VenueSoft's Randell Wingate
Dispatchers then contacted the necessary parties such as medical personnel, police or maintenance. This system, however, could be slow and inefficient. Not only did it take a certain amount of time for the supervisors to verbally confirm the nature of the incident and location, the stadium had difficulty tracking what happened after the call was first placed; who responded, how quickly and when the issue was resolved.

With the VenueSoft and AeroScout solution, much of this process is automated. Each head usher carries a VenueSoft VenueAlert handheld device—about the size and shape of a granola bar—equipped with an AeroScout T3i 2.4 GHz RFID tag, which communicates with standard (802.11) Wi-Fi access points deployed throughout the stadium. Each device has eight buttons. Six of them are designed to specify the type of incident—police, security, cleanup, repairs, medical or management. The other two are used to confirm that the requested personnel have arrived on the scene, and finally, that the trouble has been resolved, says Randell Wingate, chief operating officer at VenueSoft.

When an incident occurs, a head usher presses the appropriate button (for example, a police emergency). The device's active RFID tag then sends its unique ID number, as well as the chosen type of service request to the nearest of 13 access points located in different zones of the coliseum. According to Wingate, the access points, each of which can read tags up to 330 feet away, were already installed at the coliseum as part of its existing Wi-Fi computer network.

The VenueAlert handheld device—about the size of a granola bar—contains an AeroScout 2.4 GHz active RFID tag.

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