Event Access Control Takes to the Air

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ITN International’s new MobileAccess gives planners the event industry’s first attendee-friendly access control solution without the cost of Internet drops.

Ask any conference planner if she sometimes feels like an air-traffic controller. You’ll get a resounding “Roger, that’s an affirmative.”

She’ll agree with you because, as every planner knows, even the best plans cannot anticipate attendees’ whims.

Consider the educational sessions at any large conference or corporate meeting. During the breaks between sessions, the corridors can look as frantic as an O’Hare runway. The chief reason: last-minute changes in attendees’ “flight plans.” Regardless of the fact that they’re supposed to pre-register for their favorite sessions, once on site attendees will routinely change their minds about which ones they want to attend.

That indecision can lead to frustration and friction, if the planner lacks the flexibility to handle last-minute changes. In fact, when attendees can’t switch to some hot-topic session because access is restricted to pre-registrants only, you’ll see the same sour faces you’d see at the airport when passengers learn their flight has been cancelled. Not a pretty picture.

But one company has tackled the problem at its roots by taking event access control to the air. ITN International’s new access control solution, MobileAccess, lets attendees alter their agendas “on the fly” without inconveniencing them, compromising access control, or adding pricey Internet drops to planners’ onsite expenses.

The magic ingredient: OTA

MobileAccess works thanks to “over the air” (OTA) updates. These wireless updates transmit changes in attendees’ agendas in real time to the devices deployed to monitor event access. The OTA updates are transmitted via low-signal general packet radio service (GPRS), a cellular connection reliably available throughout any venue.

Planners can take advantage of MobileAccess at any event where ITN International issues attendees its Near Field Communication (NFC) badge, BCARD. Each BCARD issued to an attendee contains the unique set of permissions granted by the planner to that attendee (at the time of registration). Permissions can range from access to educational sessions and galas, to access to the exhibit halls, private meeting rooms or VIP lounges.

Attendees who wish to add to or change their permissions on site have several options. They can log onto the event Website; use the official event app; or visit a self-serve registration counter. With MobileAccess, when attendees change their permissions there’s no need for the planner to replace their badges or issue paper admission tickets. That’s because new permissions, in the form of “white lists,” are sent over the air from the registration system and event app to the devices used for session access control (NFC-enabled mobile phones). Each white list contains the names of all attendees with permission to enter a given event. When attendees want to enter an event, their BCARDs are read at the door by the mobile phone. Attendees on the white list are permitted entry. Attendees not on the list are denied.

With MobileAcess, attendees can enter any session for which they have permission, no matter when they changed their permissions, because the mobile phones deployed to monitor access contain an up-to-the minute copy of the white list, sent to them over the air. Planners are also spared the cost of the multiple Internet drops that would be required to support access control, were ITN International’s solution Web-based.

Attendee-friendly access control

“MobileAccess gives planners the event industry’s first access control solution that’s attendee friendly,” says Ivan Lazarev, President and CEO.

“We’ve harnessed OTA communication between registration systems and event apps and the access control devices we deploy outside session rooms, so we can update those devices in real time from a remote location. That means an attendee is never denied access to an event simply because permission was added at the very last minute. With the introduction of MobileAccess, we’ve turned the access control process from to burden to a breeze. And our solution is wireless, so clients don’t incur the heavy cost of Internet drops.”

Planners who use ITN International’s MobileAcess can:

  • Guarantee friendly access control. No attendee will be denied access to an event he or she has added—even at the last minute. And attendees who add permissions won’t have to wait for new badges or paper tickets to be issued.
  • Save a ton of money. Web-based access control systems can handle updates to attendees’ permissions, but require an Internet connection. OTA updating eliminates the expensive Internet drops needed to support these systems.

About ITN International
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, privately-held ITN International is an event analytics company serving producers and exhibitors on six continents. The company helps clients create, capture and apply analytics to make better management and marketing decisions. With operations in China, France, the UK and the US, ITN International supports large exhibitions, conferences and corporate events by providing registration, touch marketing and lead retrieval solutions based on its award-winning attendee credential BCARD, which has been used by more than 5 million attendees at over 1,500 events worldwide. BCARD integrates Near Field Communication (short-range wireless), the mobile technology driving tomorrow’s “cashless” society. Event producers and exhibitors who want to learn more can call +1.801.676.7931 or send an email to info(at)itn-international(dot)com. More information is available at http://www.itn-international.com.

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Bob James
ITN International
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