With RFID being used at San Diego Comic-Con this summer, the question on everyone’s minds is: How is it going to work? Although WonderCon was a good precursor, Director of Customer Success of Intellitix, Jon Zifkin, offered some insight.
Intellitix has provided Comic-Con International with their RFID Access Control System, which includes everything from software, custom-tailored programming and a dashboard, as well as the hardware placed at entrance and exit points (the portals).
The RFID system will work virtually the same at San Diego as it did at WonderCon, but additional equipment will be installed to handle the larger audience — and they’re working to streamline any issues.
The main purpose of the RFID system as used by CCI is “to manage patron flow for entry and exit, effectively securing the event site and eliminating badge fraud,” Zifkin explained. Everyone from staff to volunteers to press to exhibitors to panelists were given access to areas as authorized by their badge. And it isn’t just the exhibit hall and panel rooms being managed, but backstage and other areas as well. This is done by integrating the RFID software with CCI’s database through an API and all data being synchronized in real time.
“When an RFID badge is scanned at a portal, the system validates (or invalidates) the credential against the event database to ensure the guest entering the venue has a valid right of admission and has not previously entered the venue, unless they’ve scanned out at the exit first or have special permission to be in that area or room,” Zifkin said. “This eliminates any counterfeit badges or passbacks from entering the event, protecting guests who have rightfully purchased their WonderCon [or SDCC] experience.”
Two of the biggest questions that everyone wants to know the answer to are: Is any personal data stored on the badge? and, What are you doing to keep the system running?
In the case of personal information on the badge, Zifkin said, “The RFID chips embedded in the badges do not store any personal information on it; rather, an RFID tag is used as a ‘key’ to access its unique profile in the event database.”
However, while no personal information is stored, CCI is likely using the information to get a better idea of crowd flow, and to make improvements for future years. More attendees heading to the exhibit hall first thing in the morning than previously expected? They can make adjustments.
“Comic-Con organizers are able to maximize the benefits of our robust Access Control solution due to the higher level of intricacies involved for access at this type of event,” Zifkin explained. “It’s more than managing entry processes at the main entrances, but also using the platform to manage screening rooms, backstage areas, and other zones for full coverage. Our system provides that level of detail down to the micro-level of an event site.”
In order to keep the system up and running as much as possible, Zifkin and his team are on-site, as they were at WonderCon. “The installation set-up and management of our Access Control solution is done by our Intellitix operations team and we’re there every step of the way to troubleshoot and help with on-site customer service,” Zifkin said.
For those worried about a glitch in the portals slowing things to a crawl at the convention, there’s no need to worry.
“As our Access Control platform operates on a closed-loop system, each piece of hardware runs independently from one another, increasing data integrity and efficiency,” Zifkin said. “We also have backup systems in place, ensuring the event’s Access Control process will always operate with maximum uptime.”
Although the first day of RFID use at WonderCon was met with some issues, those mostly seemed to disappear by day two — in large part thanks to Intellitix and CCI troubleshooting on-site.
“Along with CCI, we provide customer service support for any guest inquiries or badge issues immediately on-site. We have a top-notch, well-rounded tech team with unparalleled site experience to handle any challenges that present themselves,” Zifkin said.
The planning and troubleshooting have been going on for months, though. Zifkin said that Intellitix and CCI have worked together “over several months on site planning, equipment allocation, API set-up, and system configuration” to be ready for WonderCon — and are undoubtedly busy working on San Diego’s setup now. The two teams work closely in “managing multiple tiers of credential badge rights, optimizing the site plan, and customer service.”
This isn’t Intellitix’s first foray into handling a large-scale event, as they have deployed their system at hundreds of events, including the massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
“We look forward to seeing all the work and technology come together to provide a better, more secure experience for SDCC attendees,” Zifkin said.
What do you think of RFID coming to Comic-Con? Let us know in the comments.