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Eurosonic Noorderslag Attendees Use RFID to Access Concerts, Workshops and Panels

The 3,150 participants wore RFID wristbands to gain admission to performances and seminars—and, in some cases, to receive beverages and learn more about a particular program or band.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 25, 2012When 3,150 music-industry professionals, musicians and their fans converged at Eurosonic Noorderslag, held earlier this month in Holland, the organizers of the three-day music event employed an RFID-based system to track ticket holders' movements, expedite entry and re-entry, and provide beverages and other special services to some participants. Attendees wore RFID wristbands that were read by fixed portal readers and handheld interrogators at a variety of concert halls, clubs and cafés throughout the city of Groningen. The technology, including wristbands, readers and a hosted server to track location data, were supplied by Intellitix, a provider of RFID access-control and cashless-payment solutions.

The annual Eurosonic Noorderslag festival and conference, first organized in the 1980s as a way to showcase local Dutch and Belgian bands, is Europe's largest industry event for new music. It draws professionals from around the world seeking to promote bands or manage their own music festivals, as well as hundreds of European musical groups. During the event, bands perform for ticket holders at a variety of venues in the town every evening, while concert promoters, agents and talent scouts participate in meetings, panel discussions and workshops with other music professionals throughout the day.

At the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival, attendees were issued RFID wristbands, which they could use to gain access to concerts and seminars via RFID portals.

The program, which has been growing in size, requires considerable planning to manage the movements of crowds through the conferences, as well as at the evening concerts. Many of the concerts take place at the city's cultural center, De Oosterpoort, and there are multiple entrance points for the venues, at which—until this year—ticket holders had to present paper tickets in order to be visually inspected by staff members. This was not only time-consuming, leading to queues, but also provided the opportunity for fraud due to counterfeit tickets, or if a legitimate ticket holder passed his ticket to someone else outside the venue, allowing an unauthorized person to enter.

Ruud Berends, Eurosonic Noorderslag's head of international promotion and monitoring, says that during previous years' events, when he needed to determine the number of visitors at any given location, he had to rely on phoned-in reports from workers at the various sites, which were only estimates of how many people attended each program. With an RFID system, says Greg Parmley, Intellitix's chief information officer, that information was made available on an Intellitix server, based on RFID wristband reads.

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