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RFID Makes a Splash at Water Park
An RFID locating system gives parents visiting Dolly's Splash Country piece of mind, because kids are always tracked. It also gives the park the opportunity to increase revenues by adding services, like cashless payments.
SafeTzone doesn't use triangulation. Instead, it divides the park into logical zones where you might look for someone. A reader is placed in each zone, which can vary from 20 feet to about 300 feet in diameter. The size is chosen based on the concentration of people, number of visual obstructions and other factors. A large zone would typically be used to cover an open plaza. A smaller zone might cover the entrance to a popular waterslide.
The kiosk displays an icon of each member of a party with a time stamp that shows when their tag was last read. So if someone just passed a reader near a water slide, the icon might say Dad, 34 second ago. The system doesn't try to track people in real time because by the time someone got to the area, the person they are looking for would have moved.
Dollly's Splash Country doesn't try to make money on the system. The wristbands are priced low enough to cover the ongoing cost of supplying them. Scherer says the company's goal was only to provide a better experience for the customer. "This is not a money maker," he says. "This is a guest service. I believe that as people become more aware of SafeTzone, it will become a money maker for us."
Guests that do know about the system certainly appreciate it. "We have gotten as high or higher marks on SafeTzone as anything we've done," says Scherer. "It's very simple to use. It's inexpensive for our guests. They love it."
The system was installed in about 30 days at the start of last season. The park had to dig up some concrete to provide electricity to certain areas where readers and kiosks would be installed. But the readers communicate wirelessly, so aside from power lines, there are no cables to install. The readers are strategically located around the park, but they blend in with the country theme, so they aren't noticeable to visitors. Some are hidden under the eaves of roofs. One is hidden in a canoe that is part of a fixed display.
SafeTzone installs all of the equipment, including servers that gather the data and provide location information. SafeTzone monitors the system remotely via a dialup modem. The vendor's staff spent a week at Dolley's Splash Country after the system was installed to train park employees to use it. The only thing park staff really have to do is register groups together, which takes just a few minutes according to Scherer.
For the coming season, SafeTzone has added some new features to the basic offering and introduced some new modules that can help the park generate more revenue. Among the new features are the ability for the park to send a message to the guest via the kiosk and an amenity locator that can highlight concession stands, bathrooms, phones or an ATM. There is also a new route planner that shows guests the best way to get from the kiosk to another area of the park, and an advertising utility that enables the parks to show ads on the kiosks when they are not being used.
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