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Companies Eye RFID for Venue Security

Microcom sees growing interest in RFID technology use to increase security on its sites at parks, stadiums or theaters, with hybrid UHF and NFC solutions to monitor guests' locations for security purposes and marketing.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 22, 2017

Public security is under scrutiny by event managers and venues this year, ranging from amusement parks to music festivals. Not only natural disasters, but also accidents and gun violence, have been in the news—and those who bring people together are seeking technology-based solutions to reduce the risks on their premises.

In that climate, radio frequency identification technology is getting a closer look from some as a solution to better understanding who is on site at any given time, as well as where and when an incident occurs, from long queues to injuries in an onsite accident. This year, a larger number of companies are either adopting or talking about RFID solutions with thermal printing solutions and technology company Microcom Corp., the company reports. Microcom has been offering RFID ticket printing for approximately 15 years.

Many of those who are not deploying RFID in some form in their ticketing solutions are at least investigating the technology, says David Dezse, Microcom's president and CEO. That, in part, is because the cost of ownership has dropped: phones are capable of reading Near Field Communication (NFC) tickets, tag prices have dropped and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader networks are becoming easier to install at a lower cost. However, he notes, the initial conversations center around access control, and that's just the tip of the iceberg of what the technology can do.

Microcom Corp's customers include amusement parks, festivals, stadiums and movie theaters. The company works with its customers to provide the necessary software to manage RFID read data, and also installs fixed readers and selects hardware. It works with readers and tags from a variety of RFID vendors, Dezse says, depending on a particular application.

For security purposes, some events managers are beginning to deploy RFID to not only control who enters and leaves a concert or other venue, but also manage where individuals go and where they might be found in the event of an emergency, in order to speed up help. The technology can also link information about each guest to a specific ticket, enabling the venue to better prevent dangerous individuals from entering in the first place.

Microcom entered the RFID market with one of the first ticket printers deployed for tracking airline luggage. Since then, it has provided printers that can print and encode NFC and UHF RFID tickets or tags, while the potential use cases for RFID grew. The company decided, in 2015, to offer solutions for venues, including tags or tickets, readers, and cloud-based software. The result, Dezse says, is a system whose potential is limited only by a user's imagination.

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