Visitor driven

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Belgium’s F1 Grand Prix saw 150,000 visitors walk through the doors at Spa. Zetes provided an RFID solution to help manage the vast number of Formula One fans…

The Formula 1 Grand Prix in Belgium took place in Francorchamps from August 26-28. Organiser Spa-Grand Prix expected to sell at least 150,000 admission tickets and in order to manage and improve the access of visitors to the circuit, the organisation used an RFID technology-based system provided by Belgian company RFIDea, now part of the Zetes Group. Along with detecting and rejecting fake tickets, the solution offered

Spa-Grand Prix greater security and efficiency – vital elements when managing numbers at busy sporting events.

All admission tickets had a built-in RFID chip. Admission officers, equipped with mobile RFID readers and spread out throughout the circuit, received the data stored in the ticket chips, which helped them to manage access to the different zones – 20 in total.

Explains David Dalla Vecchia, CEO, RFIDea: “There were different zones organised according to the different sections of the race track – gold, silver, bronze, VIP areas etc. What is significant to note is that using RFID the organisers were able to split the different areas of the race track, each of which has different access rights, and manage everything automatically using the RFID tags because the system controlled where visitors could go within the stadium.”

Traffic control

Because the chip in the tickets can be read much more quickly than a barcode at the checkpoints, waiting lines were minimised. By storing the entry and exit point information in the RFID chip itself, the counterfeiting and wrongful exchange of tickets can also be nearly eliminated through the use of this technology.

“A total of 80 RFID readers were used to control access,” continues Dalla Vecchia. “Via a central server, Spa-Grand Prix was able to continuously control the traffic to and within the different circuit zones. Along with the additional safety and efficiency advantages, the organisation could then analyse and report on the status of attendance at all times.”

Driving force

In 2010, Spa-Grand Prix utilised a fully manual system.

He adds: “The organisers were using paper tickets and everything was manually driven by event staff. The  checks were visually done and tickets would be marked off as people came into the stadium. It wanted to use RFID because it is re-writable and they could ensure that two people could not enter with the same tickets, which was open to abuse. This is achieved using RFID because every time a ticket enters an area, the chip records that it has been used, which ensures that one ticket could not be passed around to their friends waiting outside for instance. In addition to this, RFID ensures that fluidity at the entrance gates is better and also, prevents counterfeiting. Using RFID, tickets cannot be counterfeited easily, compared with using holograms for example, which are expensive. And compared with holograms, RFID has multiple benefits – anti pass-back, anti- counterfeiting and faster checking in rates.”

Zetes has been working with Spa-Grand Prix for some years on other projects and has acted as an external consultant over what systems could improve their visitor management, as a result it was appointed to implement the RFID project. Zetes staff trained the ground staff how to use the RFID reader, a process that took just 30 minutes. The mobile RFID readers were distributed across the racetrack and stadium. And all ticket information was written to each mobile reader, meaning each reader acts standalone with no requirement for a central system to control the technology.

Dalla Vecchia concludes: “RFID, it’s not the only solution for access management but it is popular because of the added value brought such as anti-counterfeiting, anti-pass back and the ability to re-write to visitor information captured because of the memory chip.

“However, if a venue doesn’t need this added value, they could use a barcode- based printed solution where the visitor prints it themselves at home. However, these options give no protection against counterfeiting and have no memory associated with it.”