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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
"Whenever an usher presses one of the buttons, the device sends a message over the Wi-Fi network," says Gabi Daniely, AeroScout's vice president of marketing and product strategy. AeroScout software identifies the tag and passes that data to the VenueSoft software system, which then links the tag's ID number with the access point's location and the nature of the call and makes that information available on large computer screens in the command center.

Dispatchers use the VenueSoft system to select the necessary responding party, sending an immediate service request for that particular zone, which is identified by the unique ID number of the access point. The VenueSoft software presents the call in the form of an icon that blinks until the issue is addressed. The software system helps differentiate between a choice of responding parties, including multiple security companies and even two different law enforcement agencies (county sheriff and municipal police), depending on which side of the stadium the call comes from.

AeroScout's Gabi Daniely
When the appropriate personnel arrive on the scene, head ushers press the "on scene" button. When the incident is resolved, they press the "done" button.

The VenueSoft software also provides business analytics to the stadium managers, allowing them to assess how quickly incidents were responded to and resolved. They can also look in real time at the computer screen to see if personnel have arrived on the scene. After the event, they can determine where in the stadium the supervisors placed the most calls for assistance, the nature of those calls and even the kinds of games and which opposing teams lead to a greater or fewer number of emergency calls. In that way they can better strategize the presence of ushers and security police during an event. "The purpose of the software is for management to look at trends. We have analytics tied into the software that will allow them to do that, and even to look at the system during the game," Wingate says.

The coliseum first tested the system at an Oakland Raiders preseason football game in August, and has since used it again for two more games. The dispatch center received 300 to 400 calls during each event, Wingate estimates. He says he was able to hear the difference in the dispatch center when the AeroScout-VenueSoft system was in use instead of the radio.

"I think the biggest surprise was how quiet the dispatch room became," Wingate says. "In the past if there was an incident, there were radios going, verbal commands. Now it's being handled through the software." However, supervisors, who are each in charge of eight ushers, still carry two-way radios for communications with other personnel in the stadium.

The VenueSoft AeroScout system is now being reviewed by seven other teams with the National Football League and two with the National Basketball Association, says Daniely.

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