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Golf Tournament Tees Up RFID

Open de Saint-Omer, an annual French event, deployed passive RFID tags to streamline access to special areas for VIP guests, as well as better plan future tournaments.
By Brett Neely
Jul 23, 2009Organizers of the Open de Saint-Omer, an annual golf tournament in northern France, deployed a passive radio frequency identification system at this year's event to streamline access to special areas reserved for VIP guests.

The tournament, which took place June 15-21, was attended by more than 13,000 spectators, including 2,000 VIPs with special access to private boxes, VIP lounges, exhibitor areas, restaurants and hotels. An additional 1,000 people, including organizers, players, sponsors and journalists, also required special access rights. In some cases, an individual's rights to visit various areas could vary from day to day, says Sandrine Grevet, director of golf development with Najeti France, the company that runs the tournament and golf resort.

The tournament organizers used handheld RFID interrogators to control access to special areas.
"We've had a problem each year," Grevet explains. "It was really, really difficult to ever say who can get into this part of the tournament, who can have lunch or who can get into the special Green Bar for VIPs."

Previous approaches relied upon bar-coded badges and wristbands to control access, Grevet says, resulting in long lines and lower guest satisfaction. In addition, she notes, it was very difficult to build up a profile of guests and sponsors to track their preferences for future events.

For this year's tournament, Najeti decided to adopt a passive RFID system to track VIPs at the event. The system was deployed with the assistance of NooliTIC, an RFID consultancy and systems integrator based in Lille, France.

Using six Psion Teklogix Workabout Pro S-G2 Gen 6 handheld computers with built-in RFID interrogators and an RFID ticketing solution supplied by Belgium-based RFIDEA, the technical team set up the system in three days. ID badges containing high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz passive tags, complying with the ISO 15693 standard, were issued to 3,000 guests, staff members and other individuals with special access rights, according to Gregory Marquis, NooliTIC's co-founder.

The readers were linked by a wireless network and a Global Packet Radio System (GPRS) network operated by Orange, a French telecom company that was also a tournament sponsor. A centralized guest database provided by RFIDEA and adapted by NooliTIC managed the access rights of every individual using the system.

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